Many people, over the years, have told me that reading Sri Aurobindo’s writings is difficult due to the complexity and wideness of the concepts he presents. I have heard, or experienced, similar issues reading Kant, Leibnitz, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Joyce and others. For those engaged in technical fields involving mathematics, physics, astronomy, some of the writing, even with their background in the field, can be daunting, and with advances in quantum mechanics, which seems to be based on a totally different structure of logic than what we have normally held in our general human understanding, we find much that is seemingly incomprehensible.

The Mother provides a methodology for gaining an understanding of what is otherwise obscure or confusing on first read. What is required is a sense of receptivity and a willingness to not try to struggle with the understanding, but to let it percolate and build neural pathways of understanding over time. As the understanding matures within us, we find that things we could not understand previously are suddenly quite clear. This also provides a methodology for the learning we experience as children and into adulthood. Children are receptive generally and their minds mature as they consider new information and new thoughts. We do not expect a young child to fully appreciate or understand all the complexity of any field of study or endeavour, but recognise that in the fullness of time, they will gain the power of comprehension needed if they remain receptive, patient and persistent in their efforts.

The Mother notes: “In thought also. For instance, you are reading something and come across a thought you don’t understand — it is beyond you, you understand nothing and so in your head it lies like a brick, and if you try to understand, it becomes more and more like a brick, a stiffening, and if you persist it gives you a headache. There is but one thing to do: not to struggle with the words, remain just like this (gesture: stretched out, immobile), create a relaxation, simply widen, widen. And don’t try to understand, above all, don’t try to understand — let it enter like that, quite gently, and relax, relax, and in this relaxing your headache goes away. You no longer think of anything, you wait for a few days and after some days you see from inside: ‘Oh! how clear it is! I understand what I had not understood.’ It is as easy as that. When you read a book which is beyond you, when you come across sentences which you cannot understand — one feels that there is no correspondence in the head — well, you must do this; one reads the thing once, twice, thrice, then remains calm and makes the mind silent. A fortnight later, one takes up the same passage again and it is clear as daylight. Everything has been organised in the head, the elements of the brain which were wanted for the understanding have been formed, everything has been done gradually and one understands.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Widening the Consciousness, pp. 150-155

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.