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Namah Journal

Think it over

Embracing life at midnight

Triasha Paul


Life shows us its different faces and man has to pass through them as a learning process and gain experience from it. Here, we look at that kind of life which is full of darkness but because man’s constant urge remains to change and grow, we will see through personal experiences and examples how one can overcome the darkness and move into light.

“At the very moment when everything seems to go from bad to worse, it is then that we must make a supreme act of faith and know that the Grace will never fail us (1).”

A larger view of life

Life has so many different aspects for us. At times we sing and dance to our heart’s content, at other times we are constantly facing challenges and often being pulled down by them. Why? What is it that causes the heart to soar high in the sky or cry in a dark corner? Are all our miseries self-created or does life like to give us sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes to experience? Where are the answers to so many questions? Maybe within us? Of course yes!

Through experiences some of us attain an early maturity in life. We jokingly say it among friends: ‘Oh, we were born mature!’Perhaps this maturity is backed by the Divine’s Grace, which has a larger picture or reason for our life. And it is this power that guides us and shapes our personality as we grow from a child into an adolescent. Each human being on this earth has a purpose to fulfil and to understand that he has to first understand the larger picture or the master who is making the wheel of evolution go round. Each suffering has a meaning, every painful event brings a lesson and will continue to come until we have learnt what nature wants to teach us. So to crib or ask why we have been put in a certain situation only means we are encouraging the suffering and reinforcing it in our lives. Instead how simple it will be if life can be confronted with a smile. Of course it’s easier said than done, but who wants to do easy things anyway? It is only when we challenge our circumstances that we feel alive and only when we confront our weaknesses there is a scope to grow stronger and progress in life.

Personal experiences

Growing up in an abusive and emotionally neglected environment and being part of a dysfunctional family has its own positive and negative effects. During all the eighteen years of my stay at home, whenever I felt discomfort surrounding me and dangers approaching, I could feel my heartbeat rising and my breath growing shallow. It was at those moments that I would rush to my room and stand before the Mother’s photo that hung above my bed and cry, praying, “Ma, please whatever happens let me keep my balance, I don’t want to lose my mind,” and cry again. Or at other times when everything else seemed to fail because I had no adult support, I would grip the Mother’s blessing packet in my palm and pray hard even though my hands trembled and fear shook me through my backbone.

After 18 years of grappling with toxic energies, it was only when I ran away from home and found shelter at the Ashram boarding school, at Mother’s lap, did my new life begin. From 2017 onwards I met so many people from the fields of psychology, healing and spirituality and discovered that opening up about childhood trauma is not a taboo, but a necessity to heal and eventually help others going through it to heal as well. I learnt so much about myself, about both the positive and negative effects that these experiences had in me, about my surroundings, about people and human behaviour. And as I am a psychology student, I found my experiences relatable, but again what struck me was that psychology only offered a number of theories which dissected human behaviour and made it painfully relatable but it didn’t have solutions or methods to uproot them permanently. For example, any form of childhood trauma causes stress because the body is a survival machine so when under stress, it prepares for fight, flight or freeze reaction, which in turn releases two stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. When these hormones are persistently released into our bloodstream and a child is constantly in stress for years together, it impairs his immune system and eventually results in various heart, lungs and liver diseases of which cancer is most common. Psychology only points out these issues and temporarily engages with therapies and management programmes like stress management which only reduces stress momentarily but doesn’t actually pull it out by its roots.

This is when spirituality comes to our rescue because it delves deeper than the mind and touches the core of man. It gives practical solutions to human problems, enlightens us with that knowledge which has already been written down, about how to walk on the path of yoga to reach the Divine. It is only by offering our lives to the Divine can we feel at peace because if one understands the root cause of a disease, it often occurs from toxic energies accumulated over the years. These energies generally attacks one organ like the heart, liver, lungs or any other part of the body, weakens it and settles down there until the birth of a disease. So instead of treating a disease like cancer only on medical grounds, doctors need to delve deeper to understand what the underlying causes are of it. These toxic energies can be removed from the body if one practises spirituality, for his preconceived ideas and past beliefs will then change and grow towards light. What spirituality does to man is that it changes, purifies and uplifts all his being towards the Divine.

Light of childhood

Yoga and spirituality are big words for me to use now because the journey of self-discovery that had begun years back is only beginning to bloom consciously now. That is, I am beginning to understand myself at a whole new level, where these big words are taking some shape into experience. But to truly experience these, I believe it is best to make them a part of my life. So I have just taken the first step into it. I don’t know how it all began, maybe somehow I was destined for it. Back in Kolkata, we had a small puja room at home where a big photo of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo was kept. I remember as a six-year-old that time, I used to stare at the Mother’s photo whenever my parents weren’t around. I don’t know why I did it or what understanding I got of it but I used to just try to imagine how their lives were or think how this place, Pondicherry, of which my grandma often recounted stories, would be like. Back then, it was all like a world of fantasy to me because I had no knowledge about the Mother of Pondicherry. I wonder if I even believed in God, all I observed was that they would be worshipped twice a day and that their photos were dominantly bigger than the other idols or photos that occupied the puja room. So I was quite naturally drawn by it.

Another instance I remember very clearly and which happened that same year is that once I dreamt of the Mother. It is a dream that I’ll never forget in my lifetime. Over these years, it has remained with me so vividly. It was a short and concrete vision. I saw the Mother standing before me in a beautiful sari with a smiling face. The Mother’s photo that is in the Ashram’s meditation room now, that exact face was in my dream. She stood there for some time and disappeared. I had just felt happy back then, but only now do I realise that my search for real happiness lay in the past struggles in order to find peace within myself and become aware of the final true aim of life. So in a way those hurtful days were only a preparation to something more beautiful in life, something that I believe only a few lucky souls are blessed with. Maybe I wasn’t aware at that age, but perhaps my soul had always aspired for the Mother and which had led me to Pondicherry as a child, to be at Her lap, for from then on I became the child of a a universal, more complete Mother.

But it is always a fault of the human mind to pine for what is missing; even now when my heart cries for a mother’s love, I gently try to show myself the negative effects of being bound into a toxic relationship and also how lucky I am to be free from the humanly selfish attachment and how often parents who are bound to their children find it a herculean task to let them go or vice versa.

Of Human love and distortions

Love carries within itself a deeper and more meaningful significance, which we humans often distort. It is a seed that exists in all and which needs to grow after a lot of nurture and care. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. We remain sealed in our nature and most are not even aware of it. When love flows we condition it with expectations, desire, ego and every other negativity possible. It is human nature to be attached to loved ones, often seen in a family,with mother and child relationships, among siblings, grandparents and grandchildren and others. However, with attachment comes expectations which the other person might not be able to fulfil and this leads to feeling hurt and hurting the other person back. What is the use of such a relationship?

On the other extreme are people who become parents for unknown reasons and then get so enmeshed in their self-centred love that they forget to care for the new life that they have brought on earth. They think their “responsibility” is to just provide food and shelter for the child and just disappear when the child emotionally needs the parents. But nurturing a child goes way beyond that. Today a countless number of children all around the world are a product of dysfunctional, broken families. Research and studies only show fearful numbers for results but what is the use of it all? Are we getting anywhere better than we were? It’s only the children who face the bleeding pain of this. As a child, to choose between chocolate or vanilla ice cream was difficult enough; imagine being asked to choose which parent you want to live with.

For me this beautiful dream of living with both parents broke when I had to pay several visits to a black-suited tall man,who sweetly asked: “Shona, who do you want to live with, Maa or Baba?” Afraid of getting scolded at home for taking sides, I would remain quiet but the truth was that I always wanted to live with both my parents, which of course will remain a dream until my next life!

Growing Into Light

Some events happen early in life to make us stronger and leave us more mature. Childhood was one such phase that opened me to a wide range of experiences more negative than positive. Back then, I never understood what was happening, but in fact took that life as a normal way of living. Only much older, at the age of sixteen, could I make sense of what exactly I was living through. Maybe it was these experiences that led me to Pondicherry Ashram school. I can’t imagine how blessed were those early times at the school that within a few years after coming here, I began to change completely. The same person who used to shrink away from the word ‘spirituality’ turned completely around for there was so much adversity to face in life and no choice other than to seek help and believe in a power much greater than human support. That’s when, during free periods in school, I began reading more books of the Mother and came across an essay called ‘To Know How To Suffer’ from the book, Words of Long Ago. The more I read, the more my heart was filled with an inexplicable joy, I felt at peace with myself and knew that no matter what went wrong, there was one safe place I could always come back to, there was always that blessing packet which I could hold between my palm and pray and always a diary where I could write out my feelings to Her.

Though life tried to break me several times in various ways and I broke down too but each time found strength in standing up and moving on again because the beauty of living lies not in remaining broken for ever but in learning to collect those pieces, glue them together and keep going with love in the heart. So just a small word to those reading this and who can in some way maybe relate it to their life-experience, I want to say, never remain silent against injustice, always “Cling to Truth” as the Mother says and of course remain strong and keep spreading love.

To know how to suffer

“If at any time a deep sorrow, a searing doubt or an intense pain overwhelms you and drives you to despair, there is an infallible way to regain calm and peace.

“In the depths of our being there shines a light whose brilliance is equalled only by its purity; a light, a living and conscious portion of a universal godhead who animates and nourishes and illumines Matter, a powerful and unfailing guide for those who are willing to heed his law, a helper full of solace and loving forbearance towards all who aspire to see and hear and obey him. No sincere and lasting aspiration towards him can be in vain; no strong and respectful trust can be disappointed, no expectation ever deceived.

“My heart has suffered and lamented, almost breaking beneath a sorrow too heavy, almost sinking beneath a pain too strong.... But I have called to thee, O divine comforter, I have prayed ardently to thee, and the splendour of thy dazzling light has appeared to me and revived me.

“As the rays of thy glory penetrated and illumined all my being, I clearly perceived the path to follow, the use that can be made of suffering; I understood that the sorrow that held me in its grip was but a pale reflection of the sorrow of the earth, of this abysm of suffering and anguish.

“Only those who have suffered can understand the suffering of others; understand it, commune with it and relieve it. And I understood, O divine comforter, sublime Holocaust, that in order to sustain us in all our troubles, to soothe all our pangs, thou must have known and felt all the sufferings of earth and man, all without exception.

“How is it that among those who claim to be thy worshippers, some regard thee as a cruel torturer, as an inexorable judge witnessing the torments that are tolerated by thee or even created by thy own will?

“No, I now perceive that these sufferings come from the very imperfection of Matter which, in its disorder and crudeness, is unfit to manifest thee; and thou art the very first to suffer from it, to bewail it, thou art the first to toil and strive in thy ardent desire to change disorder into order, suffering into happiness, discord into harmony.

“Suffering is not something inevitable or even desirable, but when it comes to us, how helpful it can be!

“Each time we feel that our heart is breaking, a deeper door opens within us, revealing new horizons, ever richer in hidden treasures, whose golden influx brings once more a new and intenser life to the organism on the brink of destruction.

“And when, by these successive descents, we reach the veil that reveals thee as it is lifted, O Lord, who can describe the intensity of Life that penetrates the whole being, the radiance of the Light that floods it, the sublimity of the Love that transforms it for ever (2)!”


1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 15. Cent ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1980, p. 182.

2. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 2. 1978, pp. 19-20.

Triasha Paul is a student at the Sri Aurobindo international Centre of Education, Pondicherry.

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