Read Summary of Sincerity
- 1 What is Sincerity?
- 2 Why Sincerity is Important?
- 3 How to be Sincere?
- 3.1 Prerequisite for Developing Sincerity
- 3.2 Ways for Developing Sincerity
- 3.3 Helpful Practices
- 3.4 How One Must Be Spontaneously Sincere in Yoga?
- 3.5 The Enemies of Sincerity - The Lower Forces
- 3.6 Various Ways to Cultivate Sincerity in Yoga
- 4 References
What is Sincerity?
Sincerity consists in making all the elements of the being, all the movements (whether outer or inner), all the parts of the being, all of them, have one single will to belong to the Divine, to live only for the Divine, to will only what the Divine wills, to express only the divine Will, to have no other source of energy than that of the Divine. 
Sincerity exacts the unification and harmonisation of the whole being in all its parts and movements around the central Divine Will. 
By perfect sincerity we mean that all our thoughts, feelings, sensations and actions should express nothing but the central Truth of our being. 
Sincerity means to accept the Divine influence only and not that of lower forces.
Sincerity means to lift all the movements of the being to the level of the highest consciousness and realisation already attained. 
To allow no part of the being to contradict the highest aspiration towards the Divine. 
Sincerity—what we call sincerity, that is to say honesty and transparency: that there may be nowhere in the being anything which pretends, hides or wants to pass itself off for what it is not. 
Be true to your true self always—that is the real sincerity. Persist and conquer.
Sincerity means more than mere honesty. It means that you mean what you say, feel what you profess, are earnest in your will. 
To be sincere, all the parts of the being must be united in their aspiration for the Divine―not that one part wants and others refuse or revolt. To be sincere in the aspiration―to want the Divine for the Divine's sake, not for fame or name or prestige or power or any satisfaction of vanity. 
Sweet Mother, what does “sincerity” mean, exactly?
There are several degrees of sincerity.
The most elementary degree is not to say one thing and think another, claim one thing and want another. For example, what happens quite often: to say, "I want to make progress, and I want to get rid of my defects" and, at the same time, to cherish one's defects in the consciousness and take great care to hide them so that nobody intervenes and sends them off. This indeed is a very common phenomenon. This is already the second degree. The first degree, you see, is when someone claims, for example, to have a very great aspiration and to want the spiritual life and, at the same time, does completely... how to put it?... shamelessly, things which are most contradictory to the spiritual life. This is indeed a degree of sincerity, rather of insincerity, which is most obvious.
And finally, if we go far enough, if we push the description far enough, so long as there is a part of the being which contradicts the central aspiration for the Divine, one is not perfectly sincere. That is to say, a perfect sincerity is something extremely rare. And most commonly, very very frequently, when there are things in one's nature which one does not like, one takes the greatest care to hide them from oneself, one finds favourable explanations or simply makes a little movement, like this (gesture). You have noticed that when things move like this you can't see them clearly. Well, where the defect is seated, there is a kind of vibrations which does this, and so your sight is not clear, you no longer see your defects. And this is automatic. Well, all these are insincerities.
But if you, whoever it may be, become truly sincere—what I call sincere, you see, what Sri Aurobindo calls sincere, that is, when nothing in the being contradicts the aspiration and the will to consecration, nothing disguises itself to continue living its own independent life... The disguises are countless, they are full of craftiness and malice, very deceptive, and unfortunately the human being has a very great innate tendency to deceive himself; and the more one deceives himself, the less one recognises the self-deception. But if one is really sincere, the Adversary can't even approach him any longer; and he doesn't try it, because that would be courting his own destruction. 
But it is possible to translate it [sincerity] 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. 
Sincerity is compared to an atmosphere or a sheet of glass. If the one or the other is completely transparent, it lets light through without distorting it.
Similarly, a sincere consciousness lets divine vibrations through without distorting them. 
Sincerity —what we call sincerity, that is to say, a perfect honesty and transparency: that there may be nowhere in the being anything which pretends, hides or wants to pass itself off for what it is not. 
Sincerity in Relation to Other Qualities
Aspiration and Sincerity
The central sincerity is the first thing and sufficient for an aspiration to be entertained—a total sincerity is needed for the aspiration to be fulfilled. 
Aspiration and will to change are not so very far from each other, and if one has either, it is usually enough for going through,—provided of course it maintains itself. The opposition in certain parts of the being exists in every sadhak and can be very obstinate. Sincerity comes by having first the constant central aspiration or will, next, the honesty to see and avow the refusal in parts of the being, finally, the intention of seeing it through even there, however difficult it may be. You have admitted certain things changed in you, so you can no longer pretend that you have made no progress at all. 
Faith and Sincerity
Faith and Sincerity are the twin agents of success. 
It is possible for anyone to attain to a complete and living faith in the Divine if he has the sincere will to do so, even though he may not be sattwic in his nature; but, if he is sattwic, it will be easier for him—he will not be hampered by doubts and revolts such as afflict the rajasic man on his way. 
Humility and Sincerity
Even what is true, is so exalted or extended beyond its true pitch and limit and measure that it becomes the parent of error. Especially if their sadhana is mainly in the mental and vital, they have to meet here many difficulties and much danger; only those who follow scrupulously a strict guidance or have the psychic being prominent in their nature pass easily as if on a sure and clearly marked road across this intermediate region. A central sincerity, a fundamental humility also save from much danger and trouble. One can then pass quickly beyond into a clearer Light where if there is still much mixture, incertitude and struggle, yet the orientation is towards the cosmic Truth and not to a half-illumined prolongation of Maya and Ignorance. 
...one must be very vigilant and very self-controlled, very patient, and have a never-failing goodwill. One must not neglect having a small dose of humility, a sufficient one, and one must never be satisfied with the sincerity one has. One must always want more. 
Purity and Sincerity
The purification of the heart is the central necessity, but a purification of the mind, vital and physical is also called for. But the most important thing for purification of the heart is an absolute sincerity. No concealment from the Divine or oneself or the Guru, a straight look at one’s nature and one’s movements, a straight will to make them straight. It does not so much matter if it takes time; one must be prepared to make it one’s whole life-task to seek the Divine. 
Purity is perfect sincerity and one cannot have it unless the being is entirely consecrated to the Divine. 
Why Sincerity is Important?
Sincerity is the key of the divine doors. 
Q: Sweet Mother, you have written: ‘Sincerity is the key to the divine gates.’ What does that mean?
A: It is a literary image, my child, an imaged, figurative, literary way of expressing the fact that with sincerity one can attain everything, even the Divine. If one wants to open a door, a key is necessary, isn’t it? Well, for the door separating you from the Divine, sincerity works as a key and opens the door and lets you in, that’s all. 
The measure of the sincerity is the measure of the success. 
Besides, if you truly want to follow the path and practise yoga, you must not do it for appreciation or honour, you must do it because it is an imperative need of your being, because you cannot be happy in any other way. Whether people appreciate you or do not appreciate you, it is of absolutely no importance. You may tell yourself beforehand that the further you are from ordinary men, foreign to the ordinary mode of being, the less people will appreciate you, quite naturally, because they will not understand you. And I repeat, it has absolutely no importance.True sincerity consists in advancing on the way [path of yoga] because you cannot do otherwise, to consecrate yourself to the divine life because you cannot do otherwise, to seek to transform your being and come out into the light because you cannot do otherwise, because it is the purpose of your life. 
In Yoga the one thing that counts in the end is sincerity and with it the patience to persist in the path—many even without this patience go through, for—again I speak from personal experience,—in spite of revolt, impatience, depression, despondency, fatigue, temporary loss of faith, a force greater than one's outer self, the force of the Spirit, the drive of the soul's need, pushes them through the cloud and the mist to the goal before them. Imperfections can be stumbling blocks and give one a bad fall for the moment, but not a permanent bar. Obscurations due to some resistance in the nature can be more serious causes of delay, but they too do not last for ever. 
There are many voices, and all are not divine; this may be only a voice of desire. All that keeps one faithful to the Truth and insists on peace, purity, devotion, sincerity, a spiritual change of the nature can be listened to with profit; the rest must be observed with discrimination and not followed blindly. Keep the fire of aspiration burning, but avoid all impatient haste. 
If you are not sincere, you will never have any insight into your own life. You must be able to look at yourself and say, "How tiny I am." 
Dissolution of Ego
The ego was necessary to form the individual being. Its destruction is therefore difficult. There is a much better, though more difficult solution: to transform it and make it an instrument of the Divine.
Egos that are converted and wholly consecrated to the Divine become especially powerful and effective instruments.
The endeavour is difficult and demands an absolute and steadfast sincerity, but for those who have a strong will, an ardent aspiration and an unshakable sincerity, it is well worth undertaking. 
In fact, as long as the ego is there, one cannot say that a being is perfectly sincere, even though he is striving to become sincere. One must pass beyond the ego, give oneself up totally to the divine Will, surrender without reserve and without calculation... then one can be perfectly sincere, but not before. That does not mean that one should not make an effort to be more sincere than one is, saying to oneself, ‘All right, I shall wait for my ego to disappear in order to be sincere’, because one may reverse the terms and say that if you do not try sincerely your ego will never disappear. 
Aid in Purification
To perceive one's own weaknesses is one result of sincerity. 
There is, besides, a marvellous joy in being sincere. Every act of sincerity carries in itself its own reward: the feeling of purification, of soaring upwards, of liberation one gets when one has rejected even one tiny particle of falsehood. 
Indispensable in the Discovery of the True Individuality
It is not indispensable to be an ascetic—it is enough if one can learn to live within in the inner being instead of on the surface, discover the soul or true individuality which is veiled by the surface mind and life forces and open the being to the superconscient Reality. But in this one cannot succeed unless one is wholly sincere and one-pointed in the effort. 
To be in Harmony with the Truth of our Being
When you are absolutely sincere, you make a constant effort to live in harmony with the highest ideal of your being, the truth of your being. if you are like that, if truly you do not act from egoistic motives or for personal reasons, if you act guided by your inner truth, that is, if you are perfectly sincere, it is absolutely the same to you whether the whole world judges you in one way or another. In this state of perfect sincerity you do not need to appear good or to be approved by others, for the first thing you experience when you are in harmony with your true consciousness is that you do not care what you look like. Whether you look like this or like that, whether you seem indifferent, cold, distant, proud, all this is of no importance; provided, I repeat this, you are absolutely sincere, that is, you never forget that you live in order to realise your inner, central truth. 
Protection on the Path
Sincerity is the safeguard, the protection, the guide, and finally the transforming power. 
A sincerity which must become total and absolute, for sincerity alone is your protection on the spiritual path. If you are not sincere, at the very next step you are sure to fall and break your head. All kinds of forces, wills, influences, entities are there, on the look-out for the least little rift in this sincerity and they immediately rush in through that rift and begin to throw you into confusion. 
The things one has to be on guard against in the cosmic consciousness are the play of a magnified ego, the vaster attacks of the hostile forces—for they too are part of the cosmic consciousness—and the attempt of the cosmic Illusion (Ignorance, Avidya) to prevent the growth of the soul into the cosmic Truth. These are things that one has to learn by experience; mental teaching or explanation is quite insufficient. To enter safely into the cosmic consciousness and to pass safely through it, it is necessary to have a strong central unegoistic sincerity and to have the psychic being, with its divination of truth and unfaltering orientation towards the Divine, already in front in the nature. 
It is difficult to say that any particular quality makes one fit or the lack of it unfit. One may have strong sex impulses, doubts, revolts and yet succeed in the end, while another may fail. If one has a fundamental sincerity, a will to go through in spite of all things and a readiness to be guided, that is the best security in the sadhana. 
And the Divine Grace is always there, marvellously effective for all those who are sincere.
Sincerity is the basis of all true realisation, it is the means, the path—and it is also the goal. Without it you are sure to make innumerable blunders and you have constantly to redress the harm you have done to yourself and to others. 
Whenever there is sincerity, you find that the help, the guidance, the grace are always there to give you the answer and you are not mistaken for long. It is this sincerity in the aspiration for progress, in the will for truth, in the need to be truly pure—pure as it is understood in the spiritual life—it is this sincerity which is the key to all progress. With it you know—and you can. 
Why do I insist on absolute sincerity?... You have all passed through childhood and you probably remember what you were taught, what you were told when you were young. Parents nearly always tell their children, ‘You must not lie, it is very bad to tell a lie.’ But the unfortunate thing is that they lie in your presence and then you wonder why they want you to do something which they don’t do themselves.
But, apart from that, why do I insist on the fact that children should be told from a very early age that it is absolutely necessary to be sincere? I am not addressing those who were brought up here, but those who were brought up in an ordinary family, with ordinary ideas. Children are very often taught how to outsmart others, how to dissimulate so as to appear good in others’ eyes. Some parents try to control children through fear, and that is the worst possible method of education, for it is an incentive to lying, deceit, hypocrisy and all the rest. But if you repeatedly explain to children something of this kind: If you are not absolutely sincere, not only with others but also with yourself, if at any time you try to cover up your imperfections and failings, you will never make any progress, you will always remain what you are throughout all your life, without ever making any progress. So, even if you only want to grow out of this primitive unconscious state into a progressive consciousness, the most important thing, the one absolutely important thing is sincerity...
And don’t think that there are people to whom this rule does not apply, for you cannot live in the physical world without having a share in the physical nature, and physical nature is essentially a mixture. You will see, when you become absolutely sincere, that there is nothing in yourself that is absolutely unmixed. But it is only when you look yourself in the face, in the light of your highest consciousness, that whatever you want to eliminate from your nature will disappear. Without this striving for absolute sincerity, the defect, the little shadow, will stay in a corner biding its time to come out. 
For those who are truly sincere, truly good-willed, all these fits can be changed into a means for progress. Each time that you have an attack of this kind, a sort of storm, you can change the crisis into a new progress, into one more step towards the goal. If precisely you have the necessary sincerity to look straight in the face, within you, at the cause of the fit—the wrong you have done, the wrong you have thought, the wrong you have felt—if you see the weakness, the violence or the vanity (for I forgot to tell you that the vital is much more full of vanity than the mind), if you look at all that full in the face and if you recognise honestly and sincerely that what has happened is due to your fault, then you are able to put a red-hot iron as it were on the affected spot. You can purify the weakness and turn it into a new consciousness. And you find after the storm that you have grown a little more, you have truly made a progress. 
How to be Sincere?
… before doing anything, beginning anything, trying anything, be sure first of all that you are not only as sincere as you can be, but have the intention of becoming still more so. 
To be entirely sincere means to desire the divine Truth only, to surrender yourself more and more to the Divine Mother, to reject all personal demand and desire other than this one aspiration, to offer every action in life to the Divine and do it as the work given without bringing in the ego. This is the basis of the divine life. One cannot become altogether this at once, but if one aspires at all times to it and calls in always the aid of the Divine Shakti with a true heart and straightforward will, one grows more and more into this consciousness. 
When, at any moment, whatever may happen, the being has given itself to the Divine and wants only the divine Will, when, no matter what is going on in the being, at any moment whatever, always, the whole being in perfect unanimity can say to the Divine and feels for the Divine, "Let Thy Will be done", when it is spontaneous, total, integral, then you are sincere. But until this is established, it is a mixed sincerity, more or less mixed, right up to the point where one is not at all sincere. 
Perfect sincerity comes when at the centre of the being there is the consciousness of the divine Presence, the consciousness of the divine Will, and when the entire being, like a luminous, clear, transparent whole, expresses this in all its details. This indeed is true sincerity. 
It is probable that perfect sincerity can only come when one rises above this sphere of falsehood that is life as we know it on earth, mental life, even the higher mental life.
When one springs up into the higher sphere, into the world of Truth, one will be able to see things as they truly are, and seeing them as they are, one will be able to live them in their truth. Then all falsehoods will naturally crumble. And since the favourable explanations will no longer have any purpose, they will disappear, for there will be nothing left to explain. 
Only those who are already very sincere know that they are not completely sincere. 
Prerequisite for Developing Sincerity
The complete unification of the whole being around the psychic centre is the essential condition to realise a perfect sincerity. 
Ways for Developing Sincerity
Men are always mixed and there are qualities and defects mingled together almost inextricably in their nature. What a man wants to be or wants others to see in him or what he is sometimes on one side of his nature or in some relations can be very different from what he is in the actual fact or in other relations or on another side of his nature. To be absolutely sincere, straightforward, open, is not an easy achievement for human nature. It is only by spiritual endeavour that one can realise it —and to do it needs a severity of introspective self-vision, an unsparing scrutiny of self-observation of which many sadhaks or Yogins even are not capable and it is only by an illumining Grace that reveals the sadhak to himself and transforms what is deficient in him that it can be done. And even then only if he himself consents and lends himself wholly to the divine working. 
How can one hasten the day when the whole being will be able to say, ‘I am Yours—Yours alone’?
There are two actions which in practice merge into one. (1) Never forget the goal that one wants to attain. (2) Never allow any part of the being or any of its movements to contradict one’s aspiration. This also makes it necessary to become conscious of one’s nights, because the activities of the night often contradict the aspiration of the day and undo its work. Vigilance, sincerity, continuity of effort, and the Grace will do the rest. 
A great sincerity is asked for and has to be imposed not only on the conscious mind but still more on the subliminal part of us which is full of hidden movements. For there is there, especially in our subliminal vital nature, an incorrigible charlatan and actor. The sadhaka must first have advanced far in the elimination of desire and in the firm equality of his soul towards all workings and all happenings before he can utterly lay down the burden of his works on the Divine. At every moment he must proceed with a vigilant eye upon the deceits of the ego and the ambushes of the misleading Powers of Darkness who ever represent themselves as the one Source of Light and Truth and take on them a simulacrum of divine forms in order to capture the soul of the seeker. 
Open with sincerity. That means to open integrally and without reservation: not to give one part of you to the divine working and keep back the rest; not to make a partial offering and keep for yourself the other movements of your nature. All must be opened wide; it is insincerity to hold back any part of you or keep it shut to the Divine.
To the Divine Vision, all sincere human aspirations are acceptable, whatever diversity or even apparent contradiction there may be in their forms. [Based on Aphorism 473 — The Lord of Love has said, "They who follow after the Unknowable and Indefinable, follow after Me and I accept them." He has justified by His word the Illusionist and the Agnostic. Why then, O devotee, dost thou rail at him whom thy Master has accepted?] 
If desire is rejected and no longer governs the thought, feeling or action and there is the steady aspiration of an entirely sincere self-giving, the psychic usually after a time opens of itself. 
If one aspires sincerely and rejects what has to be rejected, as far as one can, then the psychic and spiritual influences will more and more work, bring more and more true discrimination, support, stimulate and create the right vibrations, detect, discourage and eliminate the wrong ones. 
First, one deceives oneself by habit, but even when one begins not to deceive oneself, instinctively there is a movement of trying, trying to deceive oneself in order to feel comfortable. And so a still greater step is necessary once one has understood that one was deceiving oneself, to confess frankly, “Yes, I was deceiving myself.”
All these things are so habitual, so automatic, as it were, that you are not even aware of them; but when you begin to want to establish some discipline over your being, you make discoveries which are really tremendously interesting. When you have discovered this, you become aware that you are living constantly in a… the best word is “self-deception”, a state of wilful deceit; that is, you deceive yourself spontaneously. It is not that you need to reflect: spontaneously you put a pretty cloak over what you have done so that it doesn’t show its true colours… and all this for things which are so insignificant, which have so little importance! It would be understandable, wouldn’t it, if recognising your mistake had serious consequences for your very existence—the instinct of self-preservation would make you do it as a protection—but that is not the question, it concerns things which are absolutely unimportant, of no consequence at all except that of having to tell yourself, “I have made a mistake.”
This means that an effort is needed in order to be mentally sincere. There must be an effort, there must be a discipline. Of course, I am not speaking of those who tell lies in order not to be caught, for everybody knows that this should not be done. Besides, the most stupid lies are the most useless, for they are so flagrant that they can’t deceive anyone. Such examples occur constantly; you catch someone doing something wrong and tell him, “That’s how it is”; he gives a silly explanation which nobody can understand, nobody can accept; it is silly but he gives it in the hope of shielding himself. It is spontaneous, you see, but he knows this is not done. But the other kind of deception is much more spontaneous and it is so habitual that one is not aware of it. So, when we speak of mental honesty, we speak of something which is acquired by a very constant and sustained effort.
It is probable that perfect sincerity can only come when one rises above this sphere of falsehood that is life as we know it on earth, mental life, even the higher mental life. 
By Constant Effort
To begin with, it must be said that sincerity is progressive, and as the being progresses and develops, as the universe unfolds in the being, sincerity too must go on perfecting itself endlessly. Every halt in that development necessarily changes the sincerity of yesterday into the insincerity of tomorrow. 
By Psychic Opening
As the mind develops, the simple and pure sincerity of the child disappears. It must be replaced with a more conscious, more spiritual sincerity—the psychic sincerity. 
The psychic being is often seen or felt within in the form of a child,—it is perhaps that that you are feeling within you; it is calling for a complete sincerity, but sincerity is used here in the sense of opening to nothing but the divine influences and impulses. It does not mean that you have committed any fault, but only that the psychic in you wants you to be completely under its sole government, so that all in you may be for the Divine only. 
That is why we insist so much on sincerity in the Yoga—and that means to have all the being consciously turned towards the one Truth, the one Divine. But that for human nature is one of the most difficult of tasks, much more difficult than a rigid asceticism or a fervent piety. Religion itself does not give this complete harmonised sincerity—it is only the psychic being and the one-souled spiritual aspiration that can give it.
If there is impurity and insincerity within, the outer change will not be effective; but if there is a sincere inner working, the outer change will help it and accelerate the process. If there is any kind of egoistic turn or insincerity of motive, if the Yoga is done under a pressure of vital demands, or partly or wholly to satisfy some spiritual or other ambition, pride, vanity or seeking after power, position or influence over others or with any push towards satisfying any vital desire with the help of the Yogic force, then the psychic cannot open, or opens only partially or only at times and shuts again because it is veiled by the vital activities; the psychic fire fails in the strangling vital smoke. Also, if the mind takes the leading part in the Yoga and puts the inner soul into the background, or, if the bhakti or other movements of the sadhana take more of a vital than of a psychic form, there is the same inability. Purity, simple sincerity and the capacity of an unegoistic unmixed self-offering without pretension or demand are the conditions of an entire opening of the psychic being. 
To be perfectly sincere it is indispensable not to have any preference, any desire, any attraction, any dislike, any sympathy or antipathy, any attachment, any repulsion. One must have a total, integral vision of things, in which everything is in its place and one has the same attitude towards all things: the attitude of true vision. This programme is obviously very difficult for a human being to realise. Unless he has decided to divinise himself, it seems almost impossible that he could be free from all these contraries within him. And yet, so long as one carries them in himself, one cannot be perfectly sincere. Automatically the mental, the vital and even the physical working is falsified. I am emphasising the physical, for even the working of the senses is warped: one does not see, hear, taste, feel things as they are in reality as long as one has a preference. So long as there are things which please you and others which don't, so long as you are attracted by certain things, and repulsed by others, you cannot see things in their reality; you see them through your reaction, your preference or your repulsion. The senses are instruments which get out of order, in the same way as sensations, feelings and thoughts. Therefore, to be sure of what you see, what you feel, what you experience and think, you must have a complete detachment; and this is obviously not an easy task. But until then your perception cannot be wholly true, and so it is not sincere. 
There is needed a great patience, calm, sobriety, balance, an impersonal detachment and sincerity free from all taint of ego or personal human desire. There must be no attachment to any idea of one's own, to any experience, to any kind of imagination, mental building or vital demand; the light of discrimination must always play to detect these things, however fair or plausible they may seem. Otherwise the Truth will have no chance of establishing itself in its purity in the nature. 
Do with sincerity all you do and leave the results to the Divine's care. 
… for everything, one must be absolutely sincere. If you are not sincere, you will begin by deceiving yourself and all your experiences will be worth nothing at all. But if you are sincere and by discipline (for it is not easy) you succeed... 
If there is this unconsciousness, you have to learn to be conscious in all your actions, so that the vital movements will no longer be able to deceive you or take any cover. You must make a point of being perfectly sincere in looking at these vital movements and seeing them as they are. 
If the difficulty comes from one part of the being wanting one thing and another part of the being knowing that one must not have it, then it becomes complicated because the part which wants can try to introduce its own will into the answer. So when one sits down, first one must begin by persuading it to make a little act of sincere surrender, and it is here that one can make true progress, saying, "Now I am conscious that it is this that I desire, but I am ready to give up my desire if that should be done." But you must do this not only in the head, it must be done sincerely, and then you proceed as I said. Then one knows—knows what's to be done. 
In your meditation the first imperative need is a state of perfect and absolute sincerity in all the consciousness. It is indispensable that you should not deceive yourself or deceive or be deceived by others. Often people have a wish, a mental preference or vital desire; they want the experience to happen in a particular way or to take a turn that satisfies their ideas or desires or preferences; they do not keep themselves blank and unprejudiced and simply and sincerely observe what happens. Then if you do not like what happens, it is easy to deceive yourself; you will see one thing, but give it a little twist and make it something else, or you will distort something simple and straightforward or magnify it into an extraordinary experience. When you sit in meditation you must be as candid and simple as a child, not interfering by your external mind, expecting nothing, insisting on nothing. Once this condition is there, all the rest depends upon the aspiration deep within you. If you ask from within for peace, it will come; if for strength, for power, for knowledge, they too will come, but all in the measure of your capacity to receive it. And if you call upon the Divine, then too—always admitting that the Divine is open to your call, and that means your call is pure enough and strong enough to reach him,—you will have the answer. 
You can be a different person at different moments in your life. I know people who took decisions, had a strong will, knew what they wanted and prepared to do it. Then there was a little reversal in the being; another part came up and spoilt all the work in ten minutes. What had been accomplished in two months was all undone. When the first part comes back it is in dismay, it says: ‘What!...’ Then the whole work has to be started again, slowly. Hence it is evident that it is very important to become aware of the psychic being; one must have a kind of signpost or a mirror in which all things are reflected and show themselves as they truly are. And then, according to what they are, one puts them in one place or another; one begins to explain, to organise. That takes time. The same part comes back three or four times and every part that comes up says: ‘Put me in the first place; what the others do is not important, not at all important, it is I who will decide, for I am the most important.’ I am sure that if you look at yourself, you will see that there’s not one among you who has not had the experience. You want to become conscious, to have goodwill, you have understood, your aspiration is shining—all is brilliant, illuminated; but all of a sudden something happens, a useless conversation, some unfortunate reading, and that upsets everything. Then one thinks that it was an illusion one lived in, that all things were seen from a certain angle.
This is life. One stumbles and falls at the first occasion. One tells oneself: ‘Oh! One can’t always be so serious’, and when the other part returns, once again, one repents bitterly: ‘I was a fool, I have wasted my time, now I must begin again....’ At times there is one part that’s ill-humoured, in revolt, full of worries, and another which is progressive, full of surrender. All that, one after the other.
There is but one remedy: that signpost must always be there, a mirror well placed in one’s feelings, impulses, all one’s sensations. One sees them in this mirror. There are some which are not very beautiful or pleasant to look at; there are others which are beautiful, pleasant, and must be kept. This one does a hundred times a day if necessary. And it is very interesting. One draws a kind of big circle around the psychic mirror and arranges all the elements around it. If there is something that is not all right, it casts a sort of grey shadow upon the mirror: this element must be shifted, organised. It must be spoken to, made to understand, one must come out of that darkness. If you do that, you never get bored. When people are not kind, when one has a cold in the head, when one doesn’t know one’s lessons, and so on, one begins to look into this mirror. It is very interesting, one sees the canker. ‘I thought I was sincere!—not at all’. 
You feel uneasy, very miserable, dejected, a bit unhappy: "Things are not quite pleasant today. They are the same as they were yesterday; yesterday they were marvellous, today they are not pleasing!"—Why? Because yesterday you were in a perfect state of surrender, more or less perfect—and today you aren't any more. So, what was so beautiful yesterday is no longer beautiful today. That joy you had within you, that confidence, the assurance that all will be well and the great Work will be accomplished, that certitude—all this, you see, has become veiled, has been replaced by a kind of doubt and, yes, by a discontent: "Things are not beautiful, the world is nasty, people are not pleasant." It goes sometimes to this length: "The food is not good, yesterday it was excellent." It is the same but today it is not good! This is the barometer! You may immediately tell yourself that an insincerity has crept in somewhere. It is very easy to know, you don't need to be very learned, for, as Sri Aurobindo has said in Elements of Yoga: One knows whether one is happy or unhappy, one knows whether one is content or discontented, one doesn't need to ask oneself, put complicated questions for this, one knows it!—Well, it is very simple.
The moment you feel unhappy, you may write beneath it: "I am not sincere!" These two sentences go together:
"I FEEL UNHAPPY."
"I AM NOT SINCERE." 
Will for Progress
Naturally, if an impulse happens to come to you which you do not want, the first thing to do is to will that it does not come again; but if, on the contrary, you do not sincerely want it to disappear, then keep it, but do not try to do yoga. You should not take the path unless you have resolved beforehand to overcome all difficulties. The decision must be sincere and complete. You will notice, besides, as you gradually advance, that what you believed to be complete is not so, what you considered to be sincere is not so, and then you will progress little by little; but to succeed you must have as total a will for progress as possible. If you have this will and if an impulse seizes you with violence, keep the will firm, your being must not vacillate; you must expect these things to come, but when they come, tell yourself, "Well, they come from below, I do not want them to recur, they are not mine." This is not the same thing as saying, "Let it go, since it is Nature." 
If it [vital] seeks to transform itself, it is truly wonderful! And if it aspires for transformation, it will try to free itself. If the vital is weak, its aspiration will be weak. And mark that weakness is an insincerity, a sort of excuse one gives oneself—not very, very consciously perhaps, but you must be told that the subconscient is a place full of insincerity. And the weakness which says, "I would like it so much, but I can't" is insincerity. Because, if one is sincere, what one cannot do today one will do tomorrow, and what one cannot do tomorrow one will do the day after, and so on, until one can do it. If you understand once for all that the entire universe (or, if you like, our earth, to concentrate the problem) is nothing other than the Divine who has forgotten Himself, where will you find a place for weakness there? Not in the Divine surely! Then, in forgetfulness. And if you struggle against forgetfulness you struggle against weakness, and to the extent you draw closer to the Divine your weakness disappears. 
If you repeat the same errors several times, you may be sure you are not sincere somewhere. When one recognises one's mistake and yet repeats it, it means that only a superficial part of the consciousness has recognised it and the rest is perfectly satisfied with it and generally justifies it. You may tell yourself without the risk of making a mistake: "If I repeat the same fault, I am not sincere." So try to be sincere. 
Evidently there is one difficulty: in your conscious being something does not want the difficulty, wishes sincerely to overcome it, but there are numberless movements in other parts of your consciousness of which you are not conscious. You say, "I want to be cured of that"; unfortunately it is not sufficient to say "I want", there are other parts of the consciousness which hide themselves so that you may not be busy with them, and when your attention is turned away these parts try to assert themselves. That is why I say and shall always repeat, Be perfectly sincere; do not try to deceive yourself, do not say, "I have done all that I could." If you do not succeed, it means that you do not do all that you can. For, if you truly do "all" that you can, you will surely succeed. If you have any defect which you want to get rid of and which still persists, and you say, "I have done all that I could", you may be sure that you have not done all that you should have. If you had, you would have triumphed, for the difficulties that come to you are exactly in proportion to your strength—nothing can happen to you which does not belong to your consciousness, and all that belongs to your consciousness you are able to master. Even the things and suggestions that come from outside can touch you only in proportion to the consent of your consciousness, and you are made to be the master of your consciousness. If you say, "I have done all that I could and in spite of everything the thing continues, so I give up", you may be already sure that you have not done what you could. When an error persists "in spite of everything" it means that something hidden in your being springs up suddenly like a Jack-in-the-box and takes the helm of your life. Hence, there is only one thing to do, it is to go hunting for all the little dark corners which lie hidden in you and, if you put just a tiny spark of goodwill on this darkness, it will yield, will vanish, and what appeared to you impossible will become not only possible, practicable, but it will have been done. You can in this way in one minute get rid of a difficulty which would have harassed you for years. I absolutely assure you of it. That depends only on one thing: that you truly, sincerely, want to get rid of it. And it is the same for everything, from physical illnesses up to the highest mental difficulties. One part of the consciousness says, "I don't want it", but behind there hides a heap of things which say nothing, do not show themselves, and which just want that things continue as they are—generally out of ignorance; they do not believe that it is necessary to be cured, they believe that everything is for the best in the best of worlds. 
How One Must Be Spontaneously Sincere in Yoga?
The only thing that is truly effective is the change of consciousness; it is the inner liberation through an intimate, constant union, absolute and inevitable, with the vibration of the supramental forces. The preoccupation of every second, the will of all the elements of the being, the aspiration of the entire being, including all the cells of the body, is this union with the supramental forces, the divine forces. And there is no longer any need at all to be preoccupied with what the consequences will be. What has to be in the play of the universal forces and their manifestation will be, quite naturally, spontaneously, automatically, there is no need to be preoccupied with it. The only thing that matters is the constant, total, complete contact—constant, yes, constant—with the Force, the Light, the Truth, the Power, and that ineffable delight of the supramental consciousness.
That is sincerity. All the rest is an imitation, it is almost a part one plays for oneself.
Perfect purity is to be, to be ever more and more, in a self perfecting becoming. One must never pretend that one is: one must be, spontaneously.
This is sincerity. 
We have said that there is only one safety, never to act except in harmony with the divine Will. There is one question: how to know that it is the divine Will which makes you act? I replied to the person who put to me this question (although this person did not agree with me) that it is not difficult to distinguish the voice of the Divine: one cannot make a mistake. You need not be very far on the path to be able to recognise it; you must listen to the still, small peaceful voice which speaks in the silence of your heart.
I forgot one thing: to hear it you must be absolutely sincere, for if you are not sincere, you will begin by deceiving yourself and you will hear nothing at all except the voice of your ego and then you will commit with assurance (thinking that it is the real small voice) the most awful stupidities. But if you are sincere, the way is sure. It is not even a voice, not even a sensation, it is something extremely subtle—a slight indication. When everything goes well, that is, when you do nothing contrary to the divine Will, you will not perhaps have any definite impression, everything will seem to you normal. Of course, you should be eager to know whether you are acting in accordance with the divine Will, that is the first point, naturally, without which you can know nothing at all. But once you are eager and you pay attention, everything seems to you normal, natural, then all of a sudden, you feel a little uneasiness somewhere in the head, in the heart or even in the stomach—generally one doesn't give it a thought; you may feel it several times in the day but you reject it without giving it any attention; but it is no longer quite the same; then, at that moment, you must stop, no matter what you may be doing, and look, and if you are sincere, you will notice a small black spot (a tiny wicked idea, a tiny false movement, a small arbitrary decision) and that's the source of the uneasiness. You will notice then that the little black spot comes from the ego which is full of preferences; generally it does what it likes; the things it likes are called good and those it does not are called bad—this clouds your judgment. It is difficult to judge under these conditions. If you truly want to know, you must draw back a step and look, and you will know then that it is this small movement of the ego which is the cause of the uneasiness. You will see that it is a tiny thing curled back upon itself; you will have the impression of being in front of something hard which resists or is black. Then with patience, from the height of your consciousness, you must explain to this thing its mistake, and in the end it will disappear. I do not say that you will succeed all at once the very first day, but if you try sincerely, you will always end with success. And if you persevere, you will see that all of a sudden you are relieved of a mass of meanness and ugliness and obscurity which was preventing you from flowering in the light. It is those things which make you shrivel up, prevent you from widening yourself, opening out in a light where you have the impression of being very comfortable. If you make this effort, you will see finally that you are very far from the point where you had begun, the things you did not feel, did not understand, have become clear. If you are resolved, you are sure to succeed. 
The Enemies of Sincerity - The Lower Forces
The greatest enemies of a perfect sincerity are preferences (either mental, vital or physical) and preconceived ideas. It is these obstacles that must be overcome. 
It is not sincerity to express only what the adverse forces suggest or what you feel when you are in a bad condition full of obscurity and a wrong outlook. When you are in the Truth, you feel quite the opposite and it is not insincerity to cling to that and recall it. It is only by bringing it back that the Truth can grow in you. 
Sincere is simply an adjective meaning that the will must be a true will. If you simply think "I aspire" and do things inconsistent with the aspiration, or follow your desires or open yourself to contrary influences, then it is not a sincere will. 
The one thing that one has to be careful about is to see that they are genuine and sincere and that depends on one's own sincerity, for if one is not sincere, if one is more concerned with the ego or being a big Yogi or becoming a superman than with meeting the Divine or getting the Divine Consciousness which enables one to live in or with the Divine, then a flood of pseudos or mixtures comes in, one is led into the mazes of the intermediate zone or spins in the grooves of one's own formations. There is the truth of the whole matter. 
A being that is absolutely sincere becomes the master of the adverse forces. But so long as there is egoism in a being or pride or ill-will, it will always be the object of temptation, of attack; and it will always be fully subject to this constant conflict with what, under the appearance of hostile beings, toils in spite of itself at the divine Work. 
All who cleave to the path steadfastly can be sure of their spiritual destiny. If anyone fails to reach it, it can only be for one of two reasons, either because they leave the path or because for some lure of ambition, vanity, desire etc. they go astray from the sincere dependence on the Divine. 
Various Ways to Cultivate Sincerity in Yoga
Naturally, if an impulse happens to come to you which you do not want, the first thing to do is to will that it does not come again; but if, on the contrary, you do not sincerely want it to disappear, then keep it, but do not try to do yoga. You should not take the path unless you have resolved beforehand to overcome all difficulties. The decision must be sincere and complete. 
I tell you: if you look at yourself with sharp eyes, you will catch in yourself insincerities by the hundred, even though you are trying to be sincere in your general attitude. You will see how difficult it is.
I tell you: If you are sincere in all the elements of your being, to the very cells of your body and if your whole being integrally wants the Divine, you are sure of victory but for nothing less than that. That is what I call being sincere…
How many things in the course of the day, how many thoughts, sensations, gestures are turned exclusively towards the Divine in an aspiration? How many? I believe if you have a single one in the whole day, you may mark that in red letters.
When I say, ‘If you are sincere, you are sure of victory’, I mean true sincerity: to be constantly the true flame that burns like an offering. That intense joy of existing only by the Divine and for the Divine and feeling that without Him nothing exists, that life has no longer any meaning, nothing has any purpose, nothing has any value, nothing has any interest, unless it is this call, this aspiration, this opening to the supreme Truth, to all that we call the Divine (because you must use some word or other), the only reason for the existence of the universe. Remove that and everything disappears. 
Sweet Mother, how can we make our submission gladly?
It must be sincere. If it is truly sincere, it becomes happy. So long as it is not—you may reverse the thing—so long as it is not happy, you may be sure it is not perfectly sincere; for if it is perfectly sincere, it is always happy. If it is not happy, it means that there is something which holds back, something which would like things to be otherwise, something that has a will of its own, a desire of its own, its own purpose and is not satisfied, and therefore is not completely surrendered, not sincere in its surrender. But if one is sincere in one's surrender, one is perfectly happy, automatically; rather, one automatically enjoys an ineffable happiness. Therefore, as long as this ineffable happiness is not there, it is a sure indication that you are not sincere, that there is something, some part of the being, larger or smaller, which is not sincere. 
You must teach your vital that it must obey. Before feeling any satisfaction, it must understand that it has nothing else to do but obey. That is why I say that it is not very easy to begin the yoga; if you are not sincere, do not begin. 
One must have an absolutely transparent sincerity. Lack of sincerity is the cause of the difficulties we meet at present. Insincerity is in all men. There are perhaps a hundred men on earth who are totally sincere. Man's very nature makes him insincere―it is very complicated, for he is constantly deceiving himself, hiding the truth from himself, making excuses for himself. Yoga is the way to become sincere in all parts of the being. 
Things always come in the way when one wants to progress in the sadhana, but in the end if one is sincere in one's aspiration these troubles help to prepare the victory of the soul over all that opposes. 
If it is a problem that's to be solved, then the solution comes; if it is an inner movement, something that has gone wrong, then usually if one does this very sincerely, well, it is put back in its place; and if it is a decision that's to be taken, if it is something one doesn't know whether one must do or not do, then this too, if one is very quiet one knows whether it's a yes or no; it comes: "Yes" or "No". Then here you must not discuss any more, the mind must not say, "But if...? and then...", for then everything becomes foggy. You must say, "Good!" and follow like this. But for this you must be sincere, in the sense that you must have no preference.
As for ill-will, jealousy, quarrels and reproaches, one must sincerely be above all that and reply with a benevolent smile to the bitterest words; and unless one is absolutely sure of himself and his reactions, it would be better, as a general rule, to keep silent. 
It is perfectly true also that if a man is sincere, he will reach the Divine. But it does not follow that he will reach immediately, easily and without delay. Your error is there, to fix for God a term, five years, six years, and doubt because the effect is not yet there. A man may be centrally sincere and yet there may be many things that have to be changed in him before realisation can begin. His sincerity must enable him to persevere always—for it is a longing for the Divine that nothing can quench, neither delay nor disappointment nor difficulty nor anything else. 
Curated by Prema
Read Summary of Sincerity
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