When one begins to consider how the faults we find in others are those to which we ourselves are susceptible, and that we see them through the focus and affinity that we have to them, as the synchronicity of the universe brings forward to us those very things that we are naturally attracting, it becomes clear that these events become an opportunity for inner work to change oneself. By doing this, we overcome the urge to castigate others or upbraid them for the very behaviour that we ourselves remain capable of doing. This is the basis of serious progress in the individual sadhana and helps to focus and control the energy in such a way that it works towards growth and development rather than being wasted in useless negativity.

The Mother writes: “Try to experience this; it will greatly help you to change yourselves. At the same time it will bring a sunny tolerance to your relationships with others, the goodwill which comes from understanding, and it will very often put an end to these completely useless quarrels.”

“One can live without quarrelling. It seems strange to say this because as things are, it would seem, on the contrary, that life is made for quarrelling in the sense that the main occupation of people who are together is to quarrel, overtly or covertly. You do not always come to words, you do not always come to blows — fortunately — but you are in a state of perpetual irritation within because you do not find around you the perfection that you would yourself wish to realise, and which you find rather difficult to realise — but you find it entirely natural that others should realise it.”

” ‘How can they be like that?…’ You forget how difficult you find it in yourself not to be ‘like that’! … Try, you will see. … Look upon everything with a benevolent smile. Take all the things which irritate you as a lesson for yourself and your life will be more peaceful and more effective as well, for a great percentage of your energy certainly goes to waste in the irritation you feel when you do not find in others the perfection that you would like to realise in yourself.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Using Life as a Mirror, pp. 158-161

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.