Empty your cup

This is a small anecdote from the life of Sri Aurobindo. At a younger age, when Aurobindo was still on the path to realization, he was a little frustrated about not getting results despite intense meditation and practice. He was sitting on the rocks overlooking the sea on the Pondicherry shore and sharing his anxiety with colleagues and friends. They were drinking tea, and Aurobindo’s filled teacup was placed on a rock in front of him.

A sadhu called Kumaraswamy passed by, and happened to overhear Aurobindo’s conversation. Kumaraswamy was considered to be a mad man by the people living around the beach, because he aimlessly roamed around, deep in thought, and said things to people that they never understood. (He was probably a highly advanced and realized soul and people never realized that). Kumaraswamy hurriedly walked towards Aurobindo, and poured the tea out and placed the empty tea cup in front on Aurobindo and walked away. While his friends were about to scold Kumaraswamy, Aurobindo prevented them from doing so because he said that Kumaraswamy had actually given him the answer to his question and quelled his anxiety.

Symbolically Kumaraswamy’s action meant that trying to obtain results through meditation will be futile when the mind is full of useless preconceived notions. Emptying the mind before practicing meditation and meditating without any expectation for particular results, would lead to actual progress.

Aurobindo went on to become one of the greatest saints of modern India. He is well known for his fierce nationalism, as we can decipher from his translation of Vande mAtaram in the previous post. When he was questioned by someone whether “Mother India was real”, he replied “Mother India is more real than you and me.” His devotion to BhAratmAta is pure, yet fierce.


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