Skip to Content


Twenty-five years ago, we entered into a long term business agreement with an Indian exporter. But after some time the exporter broke his promises and sold the same products to our own customers and spoiled the market for us. In the process, he all but ruined the business we had created. When that happened I felt very disillusioned, angry and self-righteous, because this man had done so many wrong things to us. It took me a long time before I could even think of the idea that the oppositions that come to me from life come to help me make a progress. Finally we went to court for a long time, and four years passed. I had not done any of those wrong things that were done to me and everyone who heard my story felt an outrageous anger at the wrong that had been done to me. But I should have looked inside and seen whether under any circumstance I was not capable of doing the things the other man had done to me. It was only after feeling the pressure of life for long time that I could ask myself why these things come to me. I felt that I had not broken my promises, or told lies, but still these things came to me.

Eventually, I came to understand that while I had not done any of the things this exporter did to me, there is something in my consciousness capable of similar things, otherwise this trouble could not come to me. I thought, “Oh, this is not fair! We should be judged by our actions not by some subconscious propensity!” But life does not judge us by our actions. It responds to our consciousness. Life judges us by our impulses and our capacities. The progress that we are here for is not to change our behavior, but to change our consciousness. And if life only responded to our behavior, then we might all behave very nicely and remain what we are. That was a very painful, humiliating and humbling lesson for me. Once I saw the truth of it, I could look back at my own family and on my own earlier life, and find instances where I had broken my promises. I also looked at the way my father was running his own business and saw where he had also done things like that. I finally realized that the same capacity must be there in me. Then instead of complaining against this man who has done these horrible things to me, shouldn’t I be thanking him for making me conscious? Should I go even further and be grateful to him for helping me discover my own imperfections?

It took me a long time before I was willing to entertain that possibility. Finally I came to the point of really believing and seeing the reality. One day after four long, bitter years of struggle, I finally decided that no matter what else, I must make the progress so that such a thing will never come to me again in life. I must make that progress in my consciousness. I am no longer going to be fighting a court case against anybody. I was sitting in the High Court, where the exporter had filed an appeal. I just forgot the case and stopped listening to the lawyers. I was concentrating in my vital and calling Mother: “Mother, please change me, so that nothing like this should come to me again in life.” And within a half an hour the case that had been going on for four years was suddenly ended by the judge.

But the best part came afterwards. That night I had to take a train to Hyderabad for a meeting. After getting on the train, the whole night I couldn’t sleep. I was filled with such a sweet bliss that I had never felt before, even when I was physically with Mother and She was holding my hand. I felt my whole body had become honey. I did not feel like a human being. I understood that finally I have let Mother touch me where I should be touched. Now when I look back, should I be angry with that man for breaking the contract? Should I abuse him or criticize him? What he needs for his progress is up to Mother. I feel I have become a better person as a result of the whole experience. If Life needs the pressure of opposition to awaken the stone and make it conscious, should the stone complain?

The free market economic system is a pretty terrible system. It generates lots of wasteful duplication, destructive competition and disproportionate distribution of benefits. It provides enormous wealth for a few and less than the minimum to many others. But compared to other systems that the world has had in the past, the market system has created more wealth for more people than any other. How does the market system work? It works in a very illogical way. If you want to produce more for everybody, you get a lot of people doing the same work and competing with each other.

The Communists figured out that this is a very foolish system with so much waste, so they decided to streamline and rationalize it. They set up only one company to produce each type of commodity, with no competition and no wasteful expenditure on marketing. But what was the result? The companies became much less efficient. It is only when we have a lot of people doing the same thing and there is the force of competition that each company feels compelled to function in the most efficient manner and constantly strives to improve its products and processes. If a company’s competitor is selling for a cheaper price, it is forced to be more dynamic, efficient and innovative. So this opposition brings out the best in each company. I do not say that this is the ultimate system. Humanity can evolve from competition to cooperation. In fact, that is happening all around us. The European Union and World Trade Organization are good examples.

In life we should understand that opposition comes to us because we need it. The same principle is true in education. Competition is a very low motivation for learning, but in the absence of competition to achieve the best marks, most students would perform at a far lower level. If no one else is studying and there is no competition for high marks, few students would study. This fact makes competition a necessary mechanism to compel people to do what they should do for their own benefit anyway.

In life people have these same experiences hundreds of times. In fact, Mother says in a single lifetime, each man and woman learns only one thing and then goes on to another life. Why should we take a lifetime to learn a single lesson? Why go through a hundred repetitions in order to make each progress? We can be making a progress at every minute by learning each lesson that comes to us from life the first time it comes. Usually we go about thinking about the lessons that everybody else should learn, and we even enjoy explaining to them what lessons they should learn. But knowledge does not work that way. This is to function like a one-way mirror which sees in one direction and reflects back our own thoughts in the other. We become conscious of how life is urging others to improve, but we fail to see how we ourselves should change.

Sri Aurobindo says that one of the greatest mysteries of life is that out of evil or unpleasant things good can come. It is one of the basic characteristics of life. I recently read a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle in which he describes the Black Death, the monstrous plague that spread throughout Europe in the early Middle Ages and killed about one-third of the total population. Conan Doyle remarks that much good came out of the plague. The good was that feudalism, which had kept 90% of the population in virtually slavery under the system of serfdom, was broken down by this plague. Labor became so scarce that people were willing to pay cash to workers instead of paying them a meager quantity of food for their mere subsistence. The plague liberated the individual from slavery and facilitated the birth of democracy in the Europe. Do you think you could convince an Englishman today that it would have been good not to have the plague and a free society? Which free man would be willing to sacrifice his present freedom? That does not mean the plague was good or even necessary. If people had been more enlightened, they could have given up feudalism without being wiped out by a plague. At least 500 years later the British showed a little more common sense when they voluntarily gave up their empire without fighting to retain it. That shows they had learned something in 500 years.

If we have something that we consider a plague in our lives, it does not mean it is inevitable or that it is the only way we can make a progress. That is not what Mother says. If we understand that that difficulty, whether debt or physical illness or a harassing boss, comes to make us progress, and if we call Mother’s Force to make the necessary progress, we can quickly overcome the difficulty. If some problem threatens to descend on us and out of understanding and willingness to make progress we call Mother’s Force, the threat will disappear, because we no longer need that experience in order to make progress. Sri Aurobindo gives the essence of this profound knowledge in the very first chapter of the book.

book | by Dr. Radut