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Notes on counselling

The Truly Anonymous

Dr. Soumitra Basu


The truly anonymous are not only glad to be away from the limelight but they can hold the consciousness that can defuse or dilute a crisis situation.

It feels good to be successful in life. One has struggled for a long time and ultimately success comes. One may have started one’s life as rag picker and ended up being a billionaire. One may have started as a simple teacher but can end up being a famous author. And all these are flashed out as great success stories, stories that can be used as models to stimulate the general population.

A large portion of the general population remains out of the success story. Yet a significant number feel dejected that they cannot enjoy success in life. Maybe they curse their fate. Maybe they curse circumstances in life which they feel acted as a deterrent towards their growth.

The anonymous

Yet there is a small number of people who are happy to be away from the limelight. They live a simple life even in the face of complexities. And their simplicity carries them through the vicissitudes of life. Some of them truly made it from the harshest of conditions to reach the pinnacle of professional life. But they spontaneously played down their success. They are glad to be away from the flare of the media. They live an intensely private life and are glad to play that role. They are the anonymous subjects.

A lot of the stability of this world is contributed by the anonymous. The schoolteacher has been quietly doing her job for more than twenty years with the same compassion. The grocer in the local shop has been rendering service for more than thirty years with the same smile. The lady in the house has been diligently cooking for the whole family throughout their lifetime. They all contribute to social stability and they are all marked by their anonymous nature.

Krishnamurti once commented:

“Is it not possible to live in this world without ambition, just being what you are? If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. I think one can live in this world anonymously, completely unknown, without being famous, ambitious, cruel. One can live very happily when no importance is given to the self; and this also is part of right education.

The whole world is worshipping success. You hear stories of how the poor boy studied at night and eventually became a judge, or how he began by selling newspapers and ended up a multimillionaire. You are fed on the glorification of success. With achievement of great success there is also great sorrow; but most of us are caught up in the desire to achieve, and success is much more important to us than the understanding and dissolution of sorrow (1).”

The illusion of action

To understand the sorrow that comes with success, one has to embark on a metaphysical or spiritual quest. But before that can happen, one has to acknowledge that mere running about to do something does not necessarily mean successful work. And it does not mean that a great work is being done for the world.

In the Ashram at Pondicherry, there are scores of sadhaks engaged in so-called trivial activities. There are those that have given a lifetime to the bakery, to the laundry, to the dining room. And their work has been always considered to be serious and flawless, anonymous but no less important than those lecturing on sādhanā.

The Mother commented:

“Agitation, haste, restlessness lead nowhere. It is foam on the sea; it is a great fuss that stops with itself. Men have a feeling that if they are not all the time running about and bursting into fits of feverish activity, they are doing nothing. It is an illusion to think that all these so-called movements change things. It is merely taking a cup and beating the water in it; the water is moved about, but it is not changed for all your beating. The illusion of action is one of the greatest illusions of human nature. It hurts progress because it brings on you the necessity of rushing always into some excited movement. If you could only perceive the illusion and see how useless it all is, how it changes nothing! Nowhere you can achieve anything by it. Those who are thus rushing about are the tools of forces that make them dance for their own amusement. And they are not forces of the same quality either.

Whatever has been done in the world has been done by the very few who can stand outside the action in silence; for it is they who are the instruments of the Divine Power. They are dynamic agents, conscious instruments; they bring down the forces that change the world. Things can be done in that way, not by a restless activity. In peace, in silence and in quietness the world was built; and each time that something is to be truly built, it is in peace and silence and quietness that it must be done. It is ignorance to believe that you must run from morning to night and labour at all sorts of futile things in order to do something for the world.

Once you step back from these whirling forces into quiet regions, you see how great is the illusion! Humanity appears to you like a mass of blind creatures rushing about without knowing what they do or why they do it and only knocking and stumbling against each other. And it is this that they call action and life! It is empty agitation, not action, not true life.

I said once that, to speak usefully for ten minutes you should remain silent for ten days. I could add that, to act usefully for one day, you should keep quiet for a year! Of course, I am not speaking of the ordinary day-to-day acts that are needed for the common external life, but of those who have or believe that they have something to do for the world. And the silence I speakof is the inner quietude that those alone have who can act without being identified with their action, merged into it and blinded and deafened by the noise and form of their own movement. Stand back from your action and rise into an outlook above these temporal motions; enter into the consciousness of Eternity. Then only you will know what true action is (2).”

The truly anonymous

Moreover, it is an accepted fact that during a crisis situation, it is not only the crisis managers who have a hectic time running here and there who matter, but the few who in silence hold the consciousness, albeit anonymously, who also equally matter and can actually save the situation. And this has actually happened when a country was at war or the nation was plunged in a veritable crisis, and when the few who volunteered and concentrated on their consciousness, mattered the most. They are the truly anonymous whose anonymity was not merely a passive response to an external situation. They learnt the habit of remaining neutral and poised under trying situations.

One must note that just remaining passive doesn’t count for true anonymity. For a passive subject may have intense yearning for activity which one cannot indulge in but at the same time one is not free from the desire to be an active participant. Or one may be tuned in to the action through one’s participation in social media. The truly anonymous, on the other hand, are free from this turmoil, they keep themselves neutral and non-committal, they master the action of holding the consciousness in the correct way.

Ancient disputants

Besides, it is also important to acknowledge that in the world one has to face the quartet of suffering, falsehood, ignorance and death. They are the ancient revellers in time, and traversing life means one has to accept them in some order or another. These ancient disputants are like (the), “godheads from the dim Inconscient .... Inheriting the long agony of the globe,... (3)”

Success does not come alone but is accompanied by any one or more of this quartet which may leave one wounded and bruised. The truly anonymous can learn to bear this ordeal silently and gracefully.

Psychologically, the Inconscience holds the unconscious conflicts which might become dangerous if they reach a certain point. Jungian psychologists consider that if these conflicts are allowed to accumulate, then, catastrophes may occur which in the individual level can be pre-psychotic states and at the collective level a universal chaos or war. Many artists and creative scientists discover a state of great irritability or depressive or destructive mood before they write or paint or discover something (4). It is an energy-potential that needs deft handling. The artist deals with it by giving it a creative expression. However, the truly anonymous would in silence deal with this situation by avoiding something undesirable or by diluting its effects.


1. Krishnamurti J. The Book of Life – Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti. San Francisco: Harper; 1995, November 8th.

2. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother. Volume 3. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 66-68.

3. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volumes 33-34. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1997, p. 10.

4. Von Franz M-L. Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche. Boulder CO, USA: Shambhala Publications; 1999, pp. 178-79.

Dr. Soumitra Basu, a practising psychiatrist and member of SAIIIHR, is the Director of a school of psychology, Integral Yoga Psychology. He is also one of the editors of NAMAH.

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