Refined and sensitive individuals tend to judge others by their own internal standard. In many cases, this means expecting others to always respond with good will, compassion and honesty. They build up an image of how the world ‘works’ that is based on their inner sense of things, and in many cases, they see the world through a filter that tints things according to their vision. In some cases, they actually deny reality to negative or hostile acts by a conscious decision to not engage and recompense negativity with their own positive view. When these things do not work out as expected, they may suffer intensely, as their sensitive natures react even to pin-pricks, and tend to crumble under heavy blows. Some, like Hamlet in Shakespeare’s famous play of that name, bemoan their fate when they finally realize the actual state of affairs and see that their ideal view of the world has been misplaced, and wonder “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.”

For the spiritual seeker, it is both important and useful that the true nature of the world we live in is understood, as well as the status of the evolutionary process that can lead to a better and more harmonious existence in the future. Eventually the seeker must find a way to reconcile the understanding with the feelings, and still find a way forward. The Bible indicates: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” A clear vision of the dishonesty, violence, self-dealing, and unfairness of life in the world is an element of the truth that must be recognised. From that point, the seeker needs to find a way to reconcile the reality of today’s existence with the vision and aspiration he has for a better world in the future. This comes about through removal of the ego-personality from the reaction, and recognising that this is the way of the world, not something simply directed at the individual out of that broader context.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “One has not to cure oneself of one’s sensitiveness, but only acquire the power to rise to a higher consciousness taking such disenchantments as a sort of jumping-board. One way is not to expect even square dealings from others, no matter who the others are. And besides, it is good to have such experiences of the real nature of some people to which a generous nature is often blind; for that helps the growth of one’s consciousness. The blow you wince at seems to you so hard because it is a blow the world of your mental formation has sustained. Such a world often becomes a part of our being. The result is that a blow dealt to it gives almost physical pain. The great compensation is that it makes you live more and more in the real world in contradistinction to the world of your imagination which is what you would like the real world to be. But the real world is not all that could be desired, you know, and that is why it has to be acted upon and transformed by the Divine Consciousness. But for that, knowledge of the reality, however unpalatable, is almost the first requisite. This knowledge often enough is best brought home to us through blows and bleedings. True, idealistic people, sensitive people, refined natures smart under such disillusionments more than do others who are somewhat thick-skinned, but that is no reason why fine susceptibilities be blunted. The thing is to learn to detach oneself from any such experience and learn to look at such perversions of others from a higher altitude from where one can regard these manifestations in the proper perspective — the impersonal one. Then our difficulties really and literally become opportunities. For knowledge, when it goes to the root of our troubles, has in itself a marvellous healing-power as it were. As soon as you touch the quick of the trouble, as soon as you, diving down and down, get at what really ails you, the pain disappears as though by a miracle.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Sensitiveness, pp. 65-68

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.