Sri Aurobindo wrote his aphorisms between 1914 and 1920. He classified them into three categories : Jnâna (Knowledge), Karma (Works), Bhakti (Love). The following texts, translated by Mother, are excerpts from  Sri Aurobindo’s « Thoughts and Aphorisms ».

The  Goal

« When we have passed beyond knowings, then we shall have Knowledge. Reason was the helper; Reason is the bar. »

« When we have passed beyond willings, then we shall have Power. Effort was the helper; Effort is the bar. »

« When we have passed beyond enjoyings, then we shall have Bliss. Desire was the helper; Desire is the bar. »

« When we have passed beyond individualising, then we shall be real Persons. Ego was the helper; Ego is the bar. »

« When we have passed beyond humanity, then we shall be the Man. The Animal was the helper; the Animal is the bar. »

« What I cannot do now is the sign of what I shall do hereafter.The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities. Because this temporal universe was a paradox and an impossibility, therefore the Eternal created it out of His being. »

« What is God after all? An eternal child playing an eternal game in an eternal garden. »

The Chain

« Death is the question Nature puts continually to Life and her reminder to it that it has not yet found itself. If there were no siege of death, the creature would be bound for ever in the form of an imperfect living. Pursued by death he awakes to the idea of perfect life and seeks out its means and its possibility. »

Thoughts and Aphorisms

« Wherever thou seest a great end, be sure of a great beginning. Where a monstrous and painful destruction appals thy mind, console it with the certainty of a large and great creation. God is there not only in the still small voice, but in the fire and in the whirlwind. »

« The world knows three kinds of revolution. The material has strong results, the moral and intellectual are infinitely larger in their scope and richer in their fruits, but the spiritual are the great sowings. »

Jnâna

5. If mankind could but see though in a glimpse of fleeting experience what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animalevolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all & neverrest till they had gained these treasures. But the way is narrow,the doors are hard to force, and fear, distrust and scepticism are there, sentinels of Nature, to forbid the turning away of our feet from her ordinary pastures.

25. When I pine at misfortune and call it evil, or am jealous and disappointed, then I know that there is awake in me again the eternal fool.

47. When I was asleep in the Ignorance, I came to a place of meditation full of holy men and I found their company wearisome and the place a prison; when I awoke, God took me to a prison and turned it into a place of meditation and His trysting-ground

66. Sin is that which was once in its place, persisting now it is out of place; there is no other sinfulness.

70. Examine thyself without pity, then thou wilt be more charitable and pitiful to others

71. A thought is an arrow shot at the truth; it can hit a point, but not cover the whole target. But the archer is too well satisfied with his success to ask anything farther.

72. The sign of dawning Knowledge is to feel that as yet I know little or nothing, and yet, if I could only know my knowledge, I already possess everything.

73. When Wisdom comes, her first lesson is, « There is no such thing as knowledge; there are only apercus of the Infinite Deity. »

76. Europe prides herself on her practical and scientific organisation and efficiency. I am waiting till her organisation is perfect; then a child shall destroy her.

81. God’s laughter is sometimes very coarse and unfit for polite ears; He is not satisfied with being Molière, He must needs also be Aristophanes and Rabelais.

82. If men took life less seriously, they could very soon make it more perfect. God never takes His works seriously; therefore one looks out on this wonderful Universe.

86. Great saints have performed miracles; greater saints have  railed at them; the greatest have both railed at them and performed them.

93. Pain is the touch of our Mother teaching us how to bear and grow in rapture. She has three stages of her schooling, endurance first, next equality of soul, last ecstasy.

102. To the senses it is always true that the sun moves round the earth; this is false to the reason. To the reason it is always true that the earth moves round the sun; this is false to the supreme vision. Neither earth moves nor sun; there is only a change in the relation of sun-consciousness and earth-consciousness.

107. Hard is it to be in the world, free, yet living the life of ordinary men; but because it is hard, therefore it must be attempted and accomplished.

Karma

207. Beatitude is God’s aim for humanity; get this supreme good for thyself first that thou mayst distribute it entirely to thy fellow-beings.

216. Who can bear Kali rushing into the system in her fierce force and burning godhead? Only the man whom Krishna already possesses.

226. Very usually, altruism is only the sublimest form of selfishness.

234. Altruism, duty, family, country, humanity are the prisons of the soul when they are not its instruments

239. The world has had only half a dozen successful revolutions and most even of these were very like failures; yet it is by great and noble failures that humanity advances.

291. When Asiatics massacre, it is an atrocity; when Europeans, it is a military exigency. Appreciate the distinction and ponder over this world’s virtues.

292. Watch the too indignantly righteous. Before long you will find them committing or condoning the very offence which they have so fiercely censured.

297. When thou findest thyself scorning another, look then at thy own heart and laugh at thy folly.

308. Distrust the man who has never failed and suffered; follow not his fortunes, fight not under his banner.

318. As the light of a star reaches the earth hundreds of years after the star has ceased to exist, so the event already accomplished in Brahman at the beginning manifests itself now in our material experience.

381. For nearly forty years I believed them when they said I was weakly in constitution, suffered constantly from the smaller and the greater ailments and mistook this curse for a burden that Nature had laid upon me. When I renounced the aid of medicines, then they began to depart from me like disappointed parasites. Then only I understood what a mighty force was the natural health within me & how much mightier yet the Will and Faith exceeding mind which God meant to be the divine support of our life in this body

385. Disease is needlessly prolonged & ends in death oftener than is inevitable, because the mind of the patient supports and dwells upon the disease of his body.

387. The doctor aims a drug at a disease; sometimes it hits, sometimes misses. The misses are left out of account, the hits treasured up, reckoned and systematised into a science.

402. It should take long for self-cure to replace medicine, because of the fear, self-distrust and unnatural physical reliance on drugs which Medical Science has taught to our minds & bodies and made our second nature.

Bhakti

407. I am not a Bhakta, for I have not renounced the world for God. How can I renounce what He took from me by force and gave back to me against my will? These things are too hard for me.

412. To commit adultery with God is the perfect experience for which the world was created.

418. If you cannot make God love you, make Him fight you. If He will not give you the embrace of the lover, compel Him to give you the embrace of the wrestler.

430. The philosophers who reject the world as Maya, are very wise and austere and holy; but I cannot help thinking sometimes that they are also just a little stupid and allow God to cheat them too easily.

462. At first whenever I fell back into sin, I used to weep and rage against myself and against God for having suffered it. Afterwards it was as much as I could dare to ask, « Why hast thou rolled me again in the mud, O my playfellow? » Then even that came to my mind to seem too bold and presumptuous; I could only get up in silence, look at him out of the corner of my eyes and clean myself.

478. A God who cannot smile, could not have created this humorous universe.

482. My lover took away my robe of sin and I let it fall, rejoicing; then he plucked at my robe of virtue, but I was ashamed and alarmed and prevented him. It was not till he wrested it from me by force that I saw how my soul had been hidden from me.

511. God’s servant is something; God’s slave is greater.