Do Many Different Things ====
I say there that a great variety of subjects should be studied. I believe that is it. For instance, if you are at school, to study all the subjects possible. If you are reading at home, not to read just one kind of thing, read all sorts of different things.
And as for me, I was scolded all the time because I did many different things! And I was always told I would never be good at anything. I studied, I did painting, I did music, and besides was busy with other things still. And I was told my music wouldn’t be up to much, my painting wouldn’t be worthwhile, and my studies would be quite incomplete. Probably it is quite true, but still I have found that this had its advantages—those very advantages I am speaking about, of widening, making supple one’s mind and understanding.
(The Mother, 10 february 1954)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 10 february 1954. In Questions and answers (1954).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/10-february-1954#p1</ref>
It is the same thing everywhere. Only those who have developed a little artistic taste, have travelled much and seen many things have widened their consciousness and they are no longer so sectarian.
(The Mother, 21 October 1953)<ref> The Mother. (1998). 21 October 1953. In Questions and answers (1953).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/21-october-1953#p61</ref>
… this is being continuously repeated to me: if anything is to be done properly, one must specialize. It is the same thing for sports also. It is the same for every thing in life. It is said and repeated, and there are people who will prove it: to do something well one must specialize. One must do that and concentrate. If one wants to become a good philosopher, one must learn only philosophy, if one wants to be a good chemist, one must learn chemistry only. And if one wants to become a good tennis-player, one must play only tennis. That's not what I think, that is all I can say. My experience is different. I believe there are general faculties and that it is much more important to acquire these than to specialise—unless, naturally, it be like M. and Mme. Curie who wanted to develop a certain science, find something new, then of course they were compelled to concentrate on that science. But still that was only till they had discovered it; once they had found it, nothing stopped them from widening their mind.
(The Mother,10 February 1954)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 10 February 1954. In Questions and answers (1954).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/10-february-1954#p4</ref>
Naturally, as soon as races, species, nationalities intermix, it produces a mixture of egos. And then the horizon begins to widen. It is as when one tries to widen his mind, to understand many different things, study many languages, the knowledge of many countries and ages, one widens his ego very much, one begins to grow less narrow-minded. Naturally, with yoga one can overcome all this consciously.
(The Mother, 12 January 1955)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 12 January 1955. In Questions and answers (1955).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/07/12-january-1955#p29</ref>
It is like the people who cultivate their intelligence, who learn, read, think, compare, study. These people's minds widen and they are much vaster and more understanding than those who live without mental education, with a few petty ideas which sometimes are even contradictory in their consciousness and govern them totally because these are the only ones they have and they think these are unique ideas which should guide their life; these people are altogether narrow and limited whereas those who are trained and have studied—this at least widens their minds and they can see, compare ideas and see that all possible ideas are there in the world and that it is a pettiness, an absurdity to be attached to a limited number of ideas and consider them the exclusive expression of truth.
(The Mother, 23 February 1955)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 23 February 1955. In Questions and answers (1955).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/07/23-february-1955#p6</ref>
So, never come to me saying, "I am no good at this subject, I shall never understand philosophy" or "I shall never be able to do mathematics" or... It is ignorance, it is sheer ignorance. There is nothing you cannot understand if you give your brain the time to widen and perfect itself. And you can from one mental construction to another: this corresponds to studies; from one subject to another: and each subject of study means a language; from one language to another, and build up one thing after another within you, and contain all that and many more things yet, very harmoniously, if you do this with care and take your time over it. For each one of these branches of knowledge corresponds to an inner formation, and you can multiply these formations indefinitely if you give the necessary time and care.
(The Mother,12 December 1956)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 12 December 1956. In Questions and answers (1956).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/08/12-december-1956#p15</ref>
====Intellectual Ways of Widening ====
There are lots of intellectual ways of widening the consciousness. These I have explained fully in my book. But in any case, when you are bored by something, when something is painful to you or very unpleasant, if you begin to think of the eternity of time and the immensity of space, if you think of all that has gone before and all that will come afterwards, and that this second in eternity is truly just a passing breath, and that it seems so utterly ridiculous to be upset by something which in the eternity of time is... one doesn't even have the time to become aware of it, it has no place, no importance, because, what indeed is a second in eternity? If one can manage to realise that, to... how to put it?... visualise, picture the little person one is, in the little earth where one is, and the tiny second of consciousness which for the moment is hurting you or is unpleasant for you, just this—which in itself is only a second in your existence, and that you yourself have been many things before and will be many more things afterwards, that what affects you now you will have probably completely forgotten in ten years, or if you remember it you will say, "How did I happen to attach any importance to that?"... if you can realise that first and then realise your little person which is a second in eternity, not even a second, you know, imperceptible, a fragment of a second in eternity, that the whole world has unrolled before this and will unroll yet, indefinitely—before, behind—and that... well, then suddenly you see the utter ridiculousness of the importance you attach to what happened to you... Truly you feel... to what an extent it is absurd to attach any importance to one's life, to oneself, and to what happen to you. And in the space of three minutes, if you do this properly, all unpleasantness is swept away. Even a very deep pain can be swept away. Simply a concentration like this, and to place oneself in infinity and eternity. Everything goes away. One comes out of it cleansed. One can get rid of all attachments and even, I say, of the deepest sorrows—of everything, in this way—if one knows how to do it in the right way. It immediately takes you out of your little ego. There we are.
(The Mother, 29 September 1954)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 29 September 1954. In Questions and answers (1954).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/29-september-1954#p38</ref>
''How is it that we lose a chance to widen our knowledge by prevailing in a debate?''
If you prevail in a debate, it means that your opinion has prevailed over the opinion of another, not necessarily because yours was truer than his, but because you were better at wielding the arguments or because you were a more stubborn debater. And you come out of the discussion convinced that you are right in what you assert; and so you lose a chance to see a view of the question other than your own and to add an aspect of the truth to the one or the ones you already possess. You remain imprisoned in your own thought and refuse to widen it.
(The Mother, 17 March 1961) <ref>The Mother. (2003). Aphorism - 56. In On thoughts and aphorisms. http://incarnateword.in/cwm/10/aphorism-56#p11</ref> [Based on Aphorism 56 — When, O eager disputant, thou hast prevailed in a debate, then art thou greatly to be pitied; for thou hast lost a chance of widening knowledge.]
For instance, you are with someone. This person tells you something, you tell him the contrary (as it usually happens, simply through a spirit of contradiction) and you begin arguing. Naturally, you will never come to any point, except a quarrel if you are ill-natured. But instead of doing that, instead of remaining shut up in your own ideas or your own words, if you tell yourself: "Wait a little, I am going to try and see why he said that to me. Yes, why did he tell me that?" And you concentrate: "Why, why, why?" You stand there, just like that, trying. The other person continues speaking, doesn't he?—and is very happy too, for you don't contradict him any longer! He talks profusely and is sure he has convinced you. Then you concentrate more and more on what he is saying, and with the feeling that gradually, through his words, you are entering his mind. When you enter his head, suddenly you enter into his way of thinking, and next, just imagine, you understand why he is speaking to you thus! And then, if you have a fairly swift intelligence and put what you have just come to understand alongside what you had known before, you have the two ways together, and so can find the truth reconciling both. And here you have truly made progress. And this is the best way of widening one's thought.
(The Mother, 12 August 1953)<ref> The Mother. (1998). 12 August 1953. In Questions and answers (1953).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/12-august-1953#p11</ref>
For example, when you have a small narrow vision of something and are hurt by others' vision and point of view, you must begin by shifting your consciousness, try to put it in others, and try gradually to identify yourself with all the different ways of thinking of all others.
(The Mother, 29 September 1954)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 29 September 1954. In Questions and answers (1954).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/29-september-1954#p37</ref>
Easily we feel attracted towards people who bring a reinforcement to our nervous envelope; we are repelled by those who disturb or hurt it. Whatever gives it a sense of expansion and comfort and ease, whatever makes it respond with a feeling of happiness and pleasure exercises on us at once an attraction; when the effect is in the contrary sense, it responds with a protecting repulsion.
(The Mother, 16 June 1929)<ref> The Mother. (2002). 16 June 1929. In Questions and answers(1929-1931).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/16-june-1929#p12</ref>
You must widen your consciousness and understand that everyone has his own law. It is necessary to find the ground of understanding and harmony in a happy combination of individual wills and not to try that all may be the same in an identical will and action.
(The Mother, January 1931)<ref> The Mother. (2003). Narrowness and one-sidedness. In Words of the mother II.http://incarnateword.in/cwm/14/narrowness-and-one-sidedness#p2</ref>
Understanding in a State of Relaxation ====
For instance, you are reading something and come across a thought you don't understand—it is beyond you, you understand nothing and so in your head it lies like a brick, and if you try to understand, it becomes more and more like a brick, a stiffening, and if you persist it gives you a headache. There is but one thing to do: not to struggle with the words, remain just like this (gesture, stretched out, immobile), create a relaxation, simply widen, widen. And don't try to understand, above all, don't try to understand—let it enter like that, quite gently, and relax, relax, and in this relaxing your headache goes away. You no longer think of anything, you wait for a few days and after some days you see from inside: "Oh! How clear it is! I understand what I had not understood." It is as easy as that. When you read a book which is beyond you, when you come across sentences which you cannot understand—one feels that there is no correspondence in the head—well, you must do this; one reads the thing once, twice, thrice, then remains calm and makes the mind silent. A fortnight later, one takes up the same passage again and it is clear as daylight.
(The Mother, 31 March 1951)<ref> The Mother. (2002). 31 March 1951. In Questions and answers (1950-1951).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/31-march-1951#p19</ref>
==== By Unfolding
But if, when you have to face anguish, suffering, revolt, pain or a feeling of helplessness—whatever it may be, all the things that come to you on the path and which precisely are your difficulties—if physically, that is to say, in your body-consciousness, you can have the feeling of widening yourself, one could say of unfolding yourself—you feel as it were all folded up, one fold on another like a piece of cloth which is folded and refolded and folded again—so if you have this feeling that what is holding and strangling you and making you suffer or paralysing your movement, is like a too closely, too tightly folded piece of cloth or like a parcel that is too well-tied, too well-packed, and that slowly, gradually, you undo all the folds and stretch yourself out exactly as one unfolds a piece of cloth or a sheet of paper and spreads it out flat, and you lie flat and make yourself very wide, as wide as possible, spreading yourself out as far as you can, opening yourself and stretching out in an attitude of complete passivity with what I could call "the face to the light": not curling back upon your difficulty, doubling up on it, shutting it in, so to say, into yourself, but, on the contrary, unfurling yourself as much as you can, as perfectly as you can, putting the difficulty before the Light—the Light which comes from above—if you do that in all the domains, and even if mentally you don't succeed in doing it—for it is sometimes difficult—if you can imagine yourself doing this physically, almost materially, well, when you have finished unfolding yourself and stretching yourself out, you will find that more than three-quarters of the difficulty is gone. And then just a little work of receptivity to the Light and the last quarter will disappear.
(The Mother, 29 August 1956)<ref> The Mother. (2003). 29 August 1956. In Questions and answers (1956).http://incarnateword.in/cwm/08/29-august-1956#p33</ref>
==== By Doing Something Which is Not for Oneself====
I am going to set two conditions. To want to progress―that is really a moderate condition. To want to progress, to know that everything is yet to be done, everything is yet to be conquered. The second condition: to do something every day, some activity, some work, anything, something which is not for oneself, and above all something which is an expression of goodwill for all―you are a group, aren't you?―simply to show that you do not live solely for yourselves as if you were at the centre of the universe and the whole universe had to revolve around you. That is how it is for the vast majority of people, and they don't even know it. Each one should become aware that, spontaneously, one puts oneself at the centre of the universe and wants everything to come to oneself, just like that, in one way or another. But one should make an effort to recognise the existence of the whole, that's all. It is to widen one's consciousness, just to become a little less tiny.
(The Mother, 24 March 1970)<ref> The Mother. (2003). Aspiration talks. In Words of the mother II.http://incarnateword.in/cwm/13/aspiration-talks#p53</ref>
... kindness is an indispensable step towards the widening and illumination of the consciousness.
(The Mother, 25 May 1934)<ref> The Mother. (2003). Series one. In More answers from the mother.http://incarnateword.in/cwm/17/25-may-1934#p2</ref>
== Universalising Oneself ==