FLOWERS - THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE

Psychological Perfection
Plumeria Temple Tree; Chameli 1
    There is  not one psychological perfection but
five, like the five petals of this flower. We have
said   they   are:   sincerity,  faith,  devotion,
aspiration and surrender.  But as a matter of fact
every time I give this flower it is not always the
same psychological  perfection,  it  is  something
very fluid, depending on the circumstances and the
need of people.                                   
***
    The white Champak flower,  Plumeria,  is named
by the  Mother 'Psychological Perfection'.  It has
five petals.  In this beautiful  talk  the  Mother
reveals the  meaning of each petal and the quality
it signifies for the aspiring sadhak and,  with  a
unique psychological  insight,  throws a new light
on the true meaning  of  each  quality.  The  talk
begins with  the Mother showing the Champak flower
and counting its petals.                          
Who remembers this?                               
    (Counting the petals) One,  two,  three, four,
five psychological perfections.  What are the five
psychological perfections?....                    
    So, if someone knows it, he can tell us, we'll
compare....                                       
    Aspiration, devotion,   sincerity  and  faith.
That makes only four, so far. And surrender.      

    In any  case,  what  is  always there,  in all
combinations and to whomever I give it,  the first
among them  all  is sincerity.  For if there is no
sincerity, one cannot advance even by half a step.
So that is the first, and it is always there.     
    But it is possible to translate it by  another
word, if   you   prefer   it,   which   would   be
"transparency". I shall explain this word: Someone
is in front of me and I am looking at him;  I look
into his eyes.  And if this person is  sincere  or
"transparent", through  his  eyes  I go down and I
see his soul - clearly.  But - this  is  precisely
the experience - when I look at somebody and see a
little cloud, then I continue, I see a screen, and
then sometimes it is a wall,  and afterwards it is
something quite  black;  and  all  this  must   be
crossed, and  holes  bored in order to go through:
and even then I am not sure if at the last  minute
I may  not  find myself before a door of bronze so
thick that I shall never get through and  see  his
soul; so,  of  such a person I can immediately say
that he is  not  sincere.  But  I  can  also  say,
figuratively, that he is not transparent.  That is
the first thing.                                  
    There is  a  second,  which  is obviously,  as
indispensable if you want to go forward;  it is to
have faith.  Or  another  word,  which  seems more
limited but is for me more important,  because (it
is a  question of experience) if your faith is not
made of a complete trust in the Divine,  well, you
may very  easily  remain under the impression that
you have faith and yet be losing all trust in  the
divine Power or divine Goodness,  or the Trust the
Divine has   in   you.   These   are   the   three
stumbling-blocks:                                 
    Those who have what they  call  an  unshakable
faith in  the Divine,  and say,  "It is the Divine
who is doing everything,  who can  do  everything;
all that happens in me,  in others, everywhere, is
the work of the Divine and the Divine  alone",  if
they follow  this  with some kind of logic,  after
some time they will blame the Divine for  all  the
most terrible wrongs which take place in the world
and make of Him a real demon,  cruel and frightful
- if they have no trust.                          
    Or again,  they  do  have  faith,   but   tell
themselves, "Well, I have faith in the Divine, but
this world, I see quite well what it's like! First
of all,  I  suffer  so  much,  don't I?  I am very
unhappy, far more unhappy than all my  neighbours"
- for  one  is  always  far  more unhappy than all
one's neighbours - "I am very unhappy and,  truly,
life is cruel to me.                              
    But then  the  Divine   is   divine.   He   is
AllGoodness, All-Generosity,  All-Harmony,  so how
is it that I am so unhappy?  He must be powerless;
otherwise being so good how could He let me suffer
so much?"                                         
    That is the second stumbling-block.           
    And the third:  there are people who have what
may be  called  a  warped and excessive modesty or
humility and  who  tell  themselves,  "Surely  the
Divine has  thrown me out.  I am good for nothing.
He can do nothing with me,  the only thing for  me
is to  give up the game,  for He finds me unworthy
of Him!"                                          
    So, unless  one  adds  to  faith  a  total and
complete trust in the Divine Grace,  there will be
difficulties. So both are necessary....           
    Now, we have put "devotion"  in  this  series.
Yes, devotion  is all very well,  but unless it is
accompanied by many other things it too  may  make
many mistakes. It may meet with great difficulties
    You have devotion,  and you keep your ego. And
then your ego makes you do all sorts of things out
of devotion,  things which are terribly  egoistic.
That is to say, you think only of yourself, not of
others, nor of the world,  nor of the work, nor of
what ought  to  be  done  - you think only of your
devotion. And you  become  tremendously  egoistic.
And so,  when  you  find out that the Divine,  for
some reason, does not answer to your devotion with
the enthusiasm  you  expected of Him,  you despair
and fall back into the same three  difficulties  I
was just  speaking  about:  either  the  Divine is
cruel - we have read that,  there  are  many  such
stories, of  enthusiastic  devotees  who abuse the
Divine because He is no longer as gentle and  near
to them  as  before.  He has withdrawn,  "Why hast
Thou deserted  me?  Thou  hast  abandoned  me,   0
monster!... They don't dare to say this, but think
it, or else they say, "Oh! I must have made such a
serious mistake  that  I am thrown out",  and they
fall into despair.                                
    But there  is  another  movement  which should
constantly accompany  devotion....  That  kind  of
sense of  gratitude  that the Divine exists;  that
feeling of a marvelling thankfulness  which  truly
fills you  with a sublime joy at the fact that the
Divine exists,  that there  is  something  in  the
universe which is the Divine,  that it is not just
the monstrosity we see,  that there is the Divine,
the Divine  exists.  And  each time that the least
thing puts you either directly  or  indirectly  in
contact with   this   sublime  Reality  of  divine
existence, the heart is filled with so intense, so
marvellous a  joy,  such  a  gratitude  as  of all
things has the most delightful taste.             
    There is  nothing  which gives you a joy equal
to that of gratitude.  One hears a bird sing, sees
a lovely flower, looks at a little child, observes
an act of generosity,  reads a beautiful sentence,
looks at the setting sun, no matter what, suddenly
this comes upon you, this kind of emotion - indeed
so deep, so intense - that the world manifests the
Divine, that there is something behind  the  world
which is the Divine.                              
    So I find that devotion without  gratitude  is
quite incomplete,   gratitude   must   come   with
devotion.                                         
    I remember  that  once  we spoke of courage as
one of the perfections;  I remember having written
it down  once  in  a list.  But this courage means
having a taste for the supreme adventure. And this
taste for  supreme  adventure  is  aspiration - an
aspiration which takes hold of you completely  and
flings you,   without   calculation   and  without
reserve and without a possibility  of  withdrawal,
into the  great adventure of the divine discovery,
the great adventure of the divine meeting, the yet
greater adventure  of the divine Realisation;  you
throw yourself into the adventure without  looking
back and  without  asking  for  a  single  minute,
"What's going to happen?" For if you ask  what  is
going to  happen,  you  never  start,  you  always
remain stuck there,  rooted to the spot, afraid to
lose something, to lose your balance.             
    That's why I speak of courage - but really  it
is aspiration. They go together. A real aspiration
is something full of courage.                     
    And now,  surrender.  In  English  the word is
"surrender", there is no French word  which  gives
exactly that sense. But Sri Aurobindo has said - I
think we have read this - that  surrender  is  the
first and  absolute  condition for doing the yoga.
So, if we follow what he has  said,  this  is  not
just one  of  the  necessary qualities:  it is the
first attitude  indispensable  for  beginning  the
yoga. If  one  has  not  decided  to  make a total
surrender, one cannot begin.                      
    But for this surrender to be total,  all these
qualities are necessary.  And I add one more - for
so far  we have only four - I add endurance.  For,
if you are not able to face  difficulties  without
getting discouraged and without giving up, because
it is too difficult;  and if you are  incapable...
well, of  receiving  blows and yet continuing,  of
"pocketing" them,  as they say - when you  receive
blows as a result of your defects, of putting them
in your  pocket  and  continuing  to  go   forward
without flagging  - you don't go very far;  at the
first turning where you lose sight of your  little
habitual life,  you  fall into despair and give up
the game.                                         
    The most...  how  shall  I  put  it?  the most
material form of this is perseverance.  Unless you
are resolved  to begin the same thing over again a
thousand times if need be... You know, people come
to me  in despair,  "But I thought it was done and
now I must begin again!" And  if  they  are  told,
"But that's  nothing,  you  will  probably have to
begin again a hundred times,  two hundred times, a
thousand times;  you  take  one  step  forward and
think you are secure,  but there  will  always  be
something to  bring  back  the  same  difficulty a
little farther on.                                
    You think  you  have  solved the problem,  you
must solve it yet once  again;  it  will  turn  up
again looking just a little different, but it will
be the  same  problem",  and  if   you   are   not
determined that:  "Even if it comes back a million
times, I shall do it a million times,  but I shall
go through with it", well, you won't be able to do
the yoga. This is absolutely indispensable.       
    People have  a  beautiful  experience and say,
"Ah, now this is it!..." And then it settles down,
diminishes, gets  veiled,  and  suddenly something
quite unexpected,   absolutely   commonplace   and
apparently completely  uninteresting  comes before
you and blocks your way.  And then you  say,  "Ah!
what's the  good  of  having made this progress if
it's going to start all over again?  Why should  I
do it?  I  made an effort,  I succeeded,  achieved
something, and now it's as if I had done  nothing!
It's indeed hopeless." For you have no endurance. 
    If one has  endurance,  one  says,  "It's  all
right. Good.  I  shall  begin  again  as  often as
necessary; a thousand times, ten thousand times, a
hundred thousand times if necessary, I shall begin
again - but I shall go to the end and nothing will
have the power to stop me on the way."            
    This is most necessary. Most necessary.       
    So here's my proposal; we put surrender first,
at the top of the list,  that is,  we accept  what
Sri Aurobindo  has  said - that to do the integral
yoga one must first resolve to surrender  entirely
to the Divine,  there is no other way, this is the
way. But  after  that  one  must  have  the   five
psychological virtues,      five     psychological
perfections,and we say that these perfections are:
1. Sincerity or Transparency                      
2. Faith or Trust (Trust in the Divine, naturally)
3. Devotion or Gratitude                          
4. Courage or Aspiration                          
5. Endurance or Perseverance                      
    One form   of   endurance   is   faithfulness,
faithfulness to one's resolution - being faithful.
One has taken a resolution,  one  is  faithful  to
one's resolution. This is endurance.              
   There you are.                                         
   If one persists, there comes a time when one is        
victorious.                                               
    Victory is to the persistent.                         
                                                THE MOTHER
1 -Photo from book "Flowers - their spiritual significance"
ADDENDUM AND ILLUSTRATIONS
Spiritual names of plants Subject index
Alphabetic index
Common names Alphabetic index (At Latin)
FLOWERS - THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE
At the First page
Updated -15.07.99