"On Himself and on The Mother"
Section 4: Helpers on the Way
On Himself and on The Mother:
There was no Ashram at first, only a few people came to live near Sri Aurobindo and practise Yoga. It was only some time after the Mother came from Japan that it took the form of the Ashram, more from the wish of the Sadhaks who desired to entrust their whole inner and outer life to the Mother than from any intention or plan of hers or of Sri Aurobindo.
The facts are: In the meantime, the Mother, after a long stay in France and Japan, returned to Pondicherry on the 24th April, 1920. The number of disciples then showed a tendency to increase rather rapidly. When the Ashram began to develop, it fell to the Mother to organise it; Sri Aurobindo soon retired into seclusion and the whole material and spiritual charge of it devolved on her.
Q: On what date in 1926 did Mother take up the full charge of the Ashram ?
A: Mother does not at all remember the correct date. It may have been a few days after 15th August. She took up the work completely when I retired.
What are the Ashram precincts? Every house in which the Sadhaks of the Ashram live is in the Ashram precincts. People have a queer way of talking of the houses in this compound as the Ashram - it has no meaning. Or do they think that the Mother's influence or mine is shut up in a compound?
There are two atmospheres in the Ashram, ours and that of the Sadhaks. When people with a little perceptiveness come from outside, they are struck by the deep calm and peace in the atmosphere and it is only when they mix much with the Sadhaks that this perception and influence fade away. The other atmosphere of dullness and unrest is created by the Sadhaks themselves - if they were open to the Mother as they should be, they would live in the calm and peace and not in unrest and dullness.
Q: If the Ashram expands very much and there are no houses available in the Pondicherry city, naturally the extension would be somewhere in the villages nearby ?
A: There was some idea of that years ago, but circumstances took another turn and it did not materialise.
Your image of the Fishery is quite out of place. I fish for no one; people are not hauled or called here, they come of themselves by the psychic instinct. Especially I don't fish for big and famous or successful men. Such fellows may be mentally or vitally big, but they are usually quite contented with that kind of bigness and do not want spiritual things, or, if they do, their bigness stands in their way rather than helps them. The fishing for them is X's idea - he wanted to catch hold of A, B, now C, etc., etc., but they would have been exceedingly troublesome Sadhaks if they ever really dreamed of anything of the kind. All these are ordinary ignorant ideas; the Spirit cares not a damn for fame, success or bigness in those who come to it. People have a strange idea that Mother and myself are eager to get people as disciples and if anyone goes away, it is a great blow, a terrible defeat, a dreadful catastrophe and cataclysm for us. Many even think that their being here is a great favour done to us for which we are not sufficiently grateful. All that is rubbish.
[Nirodbaran's Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, page 1107 - June 30, 1938]
If the praise and blame of ignorant people is to be our standard, then we may say good-bye to the spiritual cause. If the Mother and I had cared for praise or blame we would have been crushed long ago. It is only recently that the Ashram has got "prestige" - before it was the target for an almost universal criticism, not to speak of the filthiest attacks.
[Nirodbaran's Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, page 1108 - July 2, 1938]
If you want the plain and simple truth, the plain truth is this that you have entered into a complete falsehood and have put yourself into the hands of a hostile Influence that lives by confusion and ignorance. You began by setting your own imperfect thinking power against a superior Truth and Knowledge. And by false and fantastic reasonings you have so clouded your mind that it has become entirely muddled and confused and incapable of understanding the plainest distinctions or discriminating between falsehood and Truth. This is evident in all you are saying and doing; it is not Truth and religion, but the false and inadequate ideas of your own confused and weakened mind that you are trying to force upon others.
The letter you wrote to me shows a surprising inability to understand the plainest distinctions and the simplest truths. The one who was an instrument for giving birth to the physical body of X, was no doubt in her lifetime his material mother. But the relation which exists between the Mother here and X (and between the Mother and all who accept her) is a psychic and spiritual motherhood. It is a far greater relation than that of the physical mother to her child; it gives all that human motherhood can give, but in a much higher way, and it contains in itself infinitely more. It can therefore, because it is greater and more complete, take altogether the room of the physical relation and replace it both in the inward and the outward life. There is nothing here that can confuse anyone who has common sense and a straightforward intelligence. The physical fact cannot in the least stand in the way of the greater psychic and spiritual truth or prevent it from being true. X is perfectly right when he says that this is his true mother; for she has given him a new birth in an inner life and is creating him anew for a diviner existence.
The idea of a spiritual motherhood is not an invention of this Ashram; it is an eternal truth which has been recognised for ages past both in Europe and in Asia. The distinction I have drawn between the physical relation and the psychic and spiritual relation, is also not a new invention; it is an idea known and understood everywhere and found to be perfectly plain and simple by all. It is the present confused state of your mind which prevents you from understanding what men have found natural and intelligible everywhere.
As for X and Y, you have no claim over them and no right to control their thoughts and actions. X is of an age to choose and decide; he can think and act for himself and has no need of you to think and act for him. You are not his guardian, nor Y's; you are not even the head of the family. On what ground do you claim to decide where he shall go or where he shall stay? Your pretension to have the responsibility for him or her before God is an arrogant and grotesque absurdity. Each one is responsible for himself before God unless he freely chooses to place the responsibility upon another in whom he trusts. No one has the right to impose himself on others as a religious or spiritual guide against their free will. You have no claim at all to dictate to X or Y either in their inner or their outer life. It is again the confusion and incoherence of your mind in its present state that prevents you from recognising these plain and simple facts.
Again, you say that you ask only for the Truth and yet you speak like a narrow and ignorant fanatic who refuses to believe in anything but the religion in which he was born. All fanaticism is false, because it is a contradiction of the very nature of God and of Truth. Truth cannot be shut up in a single book, Bible or Veda or Koran, or in a single religion. The Divine Being is eternal and universal and infinite and cannot be the sole property of the Mussulmans or of the Semitic religions only, - those that happened to be in a line from the Bible and to have Jewish or Arabian prophets for their founders. Hindus and Confucians and Taoists and all others have as much right to enter into relation with God and find the Truth in their own way.
All religions have some truth in them, but none has the whole truth; all are created in time and finally decline and perish. Mahomed himself never pretended that the Koran was the last message of God and there would be no other. God and Truth outlast these religions and manifest themselves anew in whatever way or form the Divine Wisdom chooses. You cannot shut up God in the limitations of your own narrow brain or dictate to the Divine Power and Consciousness how or where or through whom it shall manifest; you cannot put up your puny barriers against the divine Omnipotence. These again are simple truths which are now being recognised all over the world; only the childish in mind or those who vegetate in some formula of the past deny them.
You have insisted on my writing and asked for the Truth and I have answered. But if you want to be a Mussulman, no one prevents you. If the Truth I bring is too great for you to understand or to bear, you are free to go and live in a half-truth or in your own ignorance. I am not here to convert anyone; I do not preach to the world to come to me and I call no one. I am here to establish the divine life and the divine consciousness in those who of themselves feel the call to come to me and cleave to it and in no others. I am not asking you and the Mother is not asking you to accept us. You can go any day and live either the worldly life or a religious life according to your own preference. But as you are free, so also are others free to stay here and follow their own way. You are not entitled to try to make yourself a centre of disturbance and an obstacle to their peace and their spiritual progress.
In answering you I am answering the ideas which have been put in you by the Power of darkness and ignorance that is just now using you for its own purpose. This Power is very obviously not the divine Power. It is a Power of Falsehood that is making you do and say extravagant things which are not Islamic but a caricature of Islamic faith and action; its intention is to make not only Islam but all spirituality and religion ridiculous through you. It hopes to disturb the divine work upon earth, even if it can only do it a little. It is trying to spoil your brain and destroy your intelligence, to make you say and do foolish and extravagant things and turn you into an object of sorrow and pity for your friends and well-wishers and a laughing-stock to others.
If you have any respect for yourself or for God or religion, if you truly hope for the Truth and Light, if you wish for the awakening and the salvation of your soul, you must stop speaking and doing these extravagant things and you must throw away the Influence that is now driving you.
The Mother and myself deal with all according to the law of the Divine. We receive alike rich and poor, those who are highborn or low-born according to human standards, and extend to them an equal love and protection. Their progress in Sadhana is our main concern - for they have come here for that, not to satisfy their palates or their bellies, not to make ordinary vital demands or to quarrel about position or place or comforts. That progress depends on how they answer to the Mother's love or protection - whether they receive the forces she pours on all alike, whether they use or misuse what she gives them. But the Mother has no intention or obligation to deal with all outwardly in the same way - the demand that she should do so is absurd and imbecile - and if she did it, she would prove false to the truth of things and the law of the Divine. Each Sadhak has to be dealt with according to his nature, his capacities, his real needs (not his claims or desires) and according to what is best for his spiritual welfare. As to how it is to be done, we refuse to be dictated to by the ignorance of those of the Sadhaks who consider that the Mother must act according to their standards or their ideas of equality or justice or the demands of their vital or the notions they have brought with them from the outside world. We act according to the Light within us and for the Truth that we are striving to establish in this earthly Nature.
Each one has his own way of doing Sadhana and his own approach to the Divine and need not trouble himself about how the others do it; their success or unsuccess, their difficulties, their delusions, their egoism and vanity are in her care; she has an infinite patience, but that does not mean that she approves of their defects or supports them in all they say or do. The Mother takes no sides in any quarrel or antagonism or dispute, but her silence does not mean that she approves what they may say or do when it is improper. The Ashram or the spiritual life is not a stage in which some are to be prominent or take a leading part or a field of competition in which one has a claim or can rightly consider himself superior to others. These things are the inventions of the ordinary human attitude to the world and the tendency is to carry it over into the life of Sadhana, but that is not the spiritual truth of things. The Mother tolerates all; she does not forbid any criticism of the Sadhaks by each other nor does she give these criticisms any value. It is only when the Sadhaks see the futility of all these things from the spiritual level that there can be any hope that they will cease.
In all these things there is nothing that ought to drive a man from the spiritual life or make him go away from his Guru. It seems to me that it is only the Guru who can decide whether one is fit or not; to accept the adverse opinion of someone else on that point seems to me absurd and to act on it an offence against one's own soul; to judge oneself unfit and act on that is most perilous, for this judgment may be merely a fit of depression or a vital disturbance raising the self-depreciation of the tamasic ego. If I did not see that you could progress in the Sadhana or had not seen any progress, I would not have persistently asked you to continue nor would I be now writing to you letter after letter (I write to no one else) to meet your difficulties.
P.S. As for your other bête noire, for the dislike of whom you want to leave the Ashram, do you think the Mother is so dull, unseeing as to take people and their Sadhana at their own valuation? that she cannot see their defects as well as whatever merits they have? that she is ignorant of the movements of their lower nature? or that they can dupe and influence and lead her?
It is very silly and childish to have abhimana; for it means that you expect everyone including the Mother and myself to act always according to your ideas and do what you want us to do and never do anything which will not please you! It is for the Mother to do whatever she finds to be right or necessary; you must understand that; otherwise you will always be making yourself miserable for nothing.
What you say about those whom we receive - that if one part of them sincerely desires the Divine we give them their chance - is quite true. If we demanded more at the beginning, exceedingly few would be able even to commence this journey towards the Divine.
Q: I am overwhelmed at the patience and compassion with which you put up with our insincerities, disobediences and loosenesses.
A: Human nature is like that in its very grain; so if we are not patient, there would be little hope of its changing. But there is something else in the human being which is sincere and can be a force for the change. The difficulty in people like X is to get at that something (it is so covered up) and get it to act.
It is no question of fault or punishment - if we have to condemn and punish people for their faults and deal with the Sadhaks like a tribunal of justice, no Sadhana could be possible. I do not see how your reproach against us is justifiable. Our sole duty to the Sadhaks is to take them towards their spiritual realisation - we cannot behave like the head of a family intervening in domestic quarrels, supporting one, putting our weight against the other! However often X may stumble, we have to take him by the hand, lift him up again and get him to move once more towards the Divine. We have always done the same with you.
The psychic being is more than a spark at this stage of its evolution. It is a flame. Even if the flame is covered by mist or smoke, the mist or smoke can be dissipated. To do that and to open to the higher consciousness is what is wanted, not to become a Sri Aurobindo or equal to the Mother. But if we are the Divine, what is the harm of evolving into a portion of the Divine, living in the divine Consciousness even if in a lesser degree?
I did not mean anyone here could replace or equal myself and the Mother ... but certainly it is possible for X, Y and Z to change, to throw off their present personalities or limitations and come nearer to us than they are now - if they have the sincere will and make the endeavour.
Even the Overmind is for all but the Mother and myself either unrealised or only an influence, mostly subjective.
Is it beneath your dignity to do work for the Sadhaks? It is an entirely egoistic attitude and improper for a Sadhak. All the people in the D. R. [=The Dining Room.], in the Building Service, in the Stores, in the carpentry department, in the Atelier and Smithy, are all the time doing work for the Sadhaks, the Mother herself is doing work for the Sadhaks all day; in writing this answer I am spending my time doing work for a Sadhak. Would you think it proper for the D. R. and Kitchen workers to say, "We are not going to cook for Sadhaks or serve them; it is beneath our dignity. We will consent only to cook food for the Mother alone."? Do you want me to stop writing answers to your letter on the ground that I am doing work for a Sadhak and I will write only letters to the Mother and nobody else?
What was X doing in the kitchen so many years if not preparing the food of the Sadhaks? And what was Y doing in the granary if not work for the Sadhaks ? All these ideas are perfectly idiotic. All work given by the Mother is work for the Mother.
The books and letters are not going to be discontinued - but I shall have to take one day off in the week (Sunday). The volume of the correspondence is becoming enormous and it takes me all the night and a good part of the day - apart from the work done separately by the Mother who has also to work the greater part of the night in addition to her day's work. It is this that makes the Pranam later and later, for we do not finish till 7.30 or after. Also much work falls in arrears and piles up and many things that have their importance have had to be discontinued. Some relief is necessary.
I feel a great longing that the Sadhaks should be free of all these strifes and doubts; for so long as the present state of things continues with fires of this kind raging all around and the atmosphere in a turmoil, the work I am trying to do (certainly not for my own sake or for any personal reason) will always remain under the stroke of jeopardy and I do not know how the descent I am labouring for is to fulfil itself. In fact, the Mother and I have to give nine-tenths of our energy to smoothing down things, to keeping the Sadhaks tolerably contented etc. etc. etc. One-tenth and in the Mother's case not even that can go to the real work; it is not enough.
Q: I thought that it is not possible to have spiritual experiences, especially major ones, without your previously having knowledge about it.
A: Previously? My God, we would have to spend all our time prevising the Sadhaks' experiences. Do you think Mother has nothing else to do? As for myself, I never previse anything, I only vise and revise.
Q: You and the Mother are supposed to know what is going on in us, how and what we are aspiring for, how our nature is reacting to help and guidance. What is then the necessity of writing to you all that ?
A: It is necessary for you to be conscious and to put your self-observation before us; it is on that that we can act. A mere action on our observation without any corresponding consciousness in that part of the Sadhak would lead to nothing.
It is an undoubted fact proved by hundreds of instances that for many the exact statement of their difficulties to us is the best and often, though not always, an immediate, even an instantaneous means of release. This has often been seen by Sadhaks not only here, but far away, and not only for inner difficulties, but for illness and outer pressure of unfavourable circumstances. But for that a certain attitude is necessary - either a strong faith in the mind and vital or a habit of reception and response in the inner being. Where this habit has been established, I have seen it to be almost unfailingly effective, even when the faith was uncertain or the outer expression in the mind vague, ignorant or in its form mistaken or inaccurate. Moreover, this method succeeds most when the writer can write as a witness of his own movements and state them with an exact and almost impartial precision, as a phenomenon of his nature or the movement of a force affecting him from which he seeks release. On the other hand, if in writing his vital gets seized by the thing he is writing of and takes up the pen for him, - expressing and often supporting doubt, revolt, depression, despair, it becomes a very different matter. Even here sometimes the expression acts as a purge; but also the statement of the condition may lend energy to the attack, at least for the moment, and may seem to enhance and prolong it, exhausting it by its own violence perhaps for the time and so bringing in the end a relief, but at a heavy cost of upheaval and turmoil - and the risk of the recurring decimal movement, because the release has come by temporary exhaustion of the attacking force, not by rejection and purification through the intervention of the Divine Force with the unquestioning assent and support of the Sadhak. There has been a confused fight, an intervention in a hurly-burly, not a clear alignment of forces - and the intervention of the helping force is not felt in the confusion and the whirl.
This is what used to happen in your crises; the vital in you was deeply affected and began supporting and expressing the reasonings of the attacking force, - in place of a clear observation and expression of the difficulty by the vigilant mind laying the state of things in the light for the higher Light and Force to act upon it, there was a vehement statement of the case for the Opposition. Many Sadhaks (even "advanced") had made a habit of this kind of expression of their difficulties and some still do it; they cannot even yet understand that it is not the way. At one time it was a sort of gospel in the Ashram that this was the thing to be done, - I don't know on what ground, for it was never part of my teaching about the Yoga, - but experience has shown that it does not work; it lands one in the recurring decimal notation, an unending round of struggle. It is quite different from the movement of self-opening that succeeds, (here too not necessarily in a moment, but still sensibly and progressively) and of which those are thinking who insist on everything being opened to the Guru so that the help may be more effectively there.
Q: X asked me if it would be possible to have direct communication with you and dispense with waiting letters to get your guidance. I replied that it would not be possible unless one has developed the power of telepathy and receives replies inwardly. But even then there would be the possibility of obscuration and distortion in reception unless there is complete psychicisation of consciousness. Even with complete psychicisation it would not be possible to know all from within, e.g. about the experiences of higher stages like Overmind and Supermind, because the psychic has no instrumentality to know about them. Communication through letters would, therefore, still be necessary. But perhaps a person in complete rapport with Mother might be able to dispense with the need of communicating through letters. But is even a person who has realised the Overmind capable of such complete rapport?
A: I think it would need the Supermind itself to establish such a complete rapport. The psychic can do much in that direction on condition it has a complete control. Overmind and Intuition could do it on their own plane, but here they have to descend into the physical consciousness and that interferes with its immense obscurity in addition to the distortions of mind and vital.
You attribute too many motives - e.g. that the Mother tries to allure the vital by indulging it in the beginning. She has no such intention. She behaves naturally and simply with the being whatever change there is is in the vital's impressions about her action rather than in the action itself - except in so far as there is a change necessitated by the change in the consciousness. Formerly you were writing from the higher mind mostly, but partly from the vital - the vital was often dissatisfied with my answers, so I ceased answering to it and wrote only what would help your higher mind and psychic. Now it is from the physical mind and vital that you often write and so my answers must be to them and they feel they are not given the answers they want or in the tone of indulgence they would like. But to satisfy and indulge them would not be helpful to your Sadhana.
I have always told you that you should not take what any Sadhak says or thinks as authoritative or coming from the Mother. Even when they say it is coming from me or her it cannot be accepted, for it is often an idea in their own minds that they think to be ours also or a misunderstanding of what we have said in a particular connection but which their minds apply to something with which it was not connected or to all things in general. No Sadhak whoever he may be can stand for us in our place or speak for us. Each must be taken as speaking on his own account his own thought or feeling.
People often catch hold of something written by me or said by the Mother, give it an interpretation quite other than or far beyond its true meaning and deduce from it a suddenly extreme and logical conclusion which is quite contrary to our knowledge and experience. It is natural, I suppose, and part of the game of the hostile forces; it is so much easier to come to vehement logical conclusions than to look at the Truth which is many-sided and whole.
The help (I am not speaking of a divine intervention from above but of my help and the Mother's) will be there. It can be effective in spite of your physical mind, but it will be more effective if the steady working will of which I speak is there as its instrument.
There are always two elements in spiritual success - one's own steady will and endeavour and the Power that in one way or another helps and gives the result of the endeavour.
You have to develop the power and the habit of taking refuge in the protection of the Mother and myself. It is for this reason that the habit of criticising and judging by the outer mind or cherishing its preconceived ideas and formations must disappear. You should repeat always to yourself when it tries to rise, "Sri Aurobindo and the Mother know better than myself - they have the experience and knowledge which I have not - they must surely be acting for the best and in a greater light than that of ordinary human knowledge." If you can fix that idea in yourself so that it will remain even in clouded moments you will be able to face much more easily the suggestions of the Asuric Maya.
The Mother and I will do all to get rid of the cloud which the physical mind presents against the permanent consciousness of your soul's connection with the Mother, - but let your thinking mind be firm in its will to be rid of it and to call the aid of our Force.
Be cheerful and confident. Doubt and desire & Co. are there, no doubt, but the Divine is there also inside you. Open your eyes and look and look till the veil is rent and you see Him or Her!
No - we do not put our picture inside anybody when we give the first blessing. But if you go on looking inside, you will one day find the Mother there.
We are sorry that you have suffered so much. It was not to hurt you that the Mother put the pressure, but to liberate. It has always been with a deep affection and sympathy with you in your struggles that she has tried to help you. I trust you will recover soon your ease of mind and peace. I will try to give you all the help possible.
It is not possible to accept the suggestion about joining with those who are in personal attendance upon me. They were not admitted as a help to their Sadhana but for practical reasons. In fact, here also there is some misconception. Continual personal contact does not necessarily bring out the action of the Force. Hriday had that personal contact with Sri Ramakrishna and the opportunity of personal service to him, but he received nothing except on one occasion and then he could not contain the force and the realisation which the Master had put into him. The feeling of losing himself which X had was on the special occasions of the Darshan and the Pranam to the Mother. That he had this response shows that he can answer to the Force, that he has the receptivity, as we say, and that is a great thing, for all do not have it and those who have it are not always conscious of its cause but only of its result. But he should reason less and rather try to keep himself open as he was in those moments. If I have written about Force, it is because both the Mother and myself have had many thousand experiences in which it acted and produced results of every kind. This idea of the Force has nothing to do with theory or reasoning but is felt constantly by every Yogi; it is part of his normal Yogic consciousness and his constant spiritual activity.
Q: Is it not likely that more outward nearness and familiarity with you or the Mother may mean less aspiration and less inner growth?
A: It depends on the person. Some profit, some do not. No general statement can be made.
It is not true that you have never received Force from us: you have received it to any extent; it can only be said that you were not conscious of it, but that happens with many. Certainly none of the Sadhaks receives or uses all the Force that the Mother sends, but that is a general fact and not peculiar to you.
Q: X seems to think that the Mother is harder than you.
A: That is because the Mother's pressure for change is always strong - even when she does not put it as force, it is there by the very nature of the Divine Energy in her.
As to the dream, it was not a dream but an experience of the inner being.in a conscious dream state, svapna-samadhi. The numbness and the feeling of being about to lose consciousness are always due to the pressure or descent of a Force to which the body is not accustomed, but feels strongly. Here it was not the physical body that was being directly pressed, but the subtle body, sukshma sharira, in which the inner being more intimately dwells and in which it goes out in sleep or trance or in the moment of death. But the physical body in these vivid experiences feels as if it was itself that was having the experience; the numbness was the effect in it of the pressure. The pressure on the whole body would mean a pressure on the whole inner consciousness, perhaps for some modification or change which would make it more ready for knowledge or experience; the third or fourth rib would indicate a region which belongs to the vital nature, the domain of the life-force, some pressure for a change there.
The strength of the hand, the weight would not necessarily indicate that it was mine - for it was an experience not of the physical hand or in the physical body, but in the subtle realms of the being and there the Mother's touch and pressure might well be stronger and heavier than mine. The Mother does not remember the date, but one night about that period she was thinking strongly about her and putting a pressure for the removal of some obstacle to a spiritual opening. It is possible that this was what produced the experience. If it was myself, it must have been at a time when I was concentrating and sending the force to different people, but I remember nothing precise. I have often thought of her of course and sent a force to help her.
It is not necessary for us always to be physically conscious of the action, for it is often carried out when the mind is occupied with outward things or when we sleep. The Mother's sleep is not sleep but an inner consciousness in which she is in connection with people or working everywhere. At the time she is aware, but she does not carry all that always into her waking consciousness or in her memory. A call would come in the occupied waking mind as the thought of the person coming - in a more free or in a concentrated state as a communication from the person in question; in a deeper concentration or in sleep or trance she would see the person coming and speaking to her or she herself going there. Besides that, wherever the Force is working, the Presence is there.
It is quite normal in dream to see the Mother or myself with another appearance than the present. These dreams are experiences on the vital plane where forms are not so rigid as in the physical world.
It is quite sure that we are with you day and night; even if you do not yet see the Mother in your dreams or feel her presence, you should think of her as there and supporting you and that will surely help you.
If there is a natural movement of your mind to identify Shiva in the way you speak of and it jumps to myself and the Mother, why not let it take the jump? Perhaps it is not a jump but a natural transition, and reconciliation and not a conflict. Certainly your Pranams are always accepted by us and always will be.
Q: Yesterday after dusk, I felt as if some welcome revolution had taken place in the Divine order of things. I attended the meditation and felt the whole place filled with calm and silence. I seemed to be sitting alone in meditation in the midst of a boundless vastness. The Sadhaks had all become one, a solid mass; and over that massed body a light was flitting about, casting electric flashes. All was still, silent, calm, motionless. Anon I found within me numerous lotuses. Then descended a virat mahapurusha, Himalayan in proportions, in the form of Sri Aurobindo, who, as if on finding the earth incapable of bearing his weight, stood behind the Mother and placed his hands on her shoulders. The whole world was surcharged with silence and Ananda. The sight is beyond my powers to describe. An immeasurable force rushed into me, wave upon wave. Quick and short grew my respiration. Slowly a silence fell over everything. This led me to think that the Mother might have withdrawn, leaving us thrown into Yogic sleep. Then stealthily, like a wary thief, I opened my eyes and saw in front a white figure of ice, calm, motionless, stiff, statuelike, as if without life. Was my experience true?
A: The experience you had was a true one, for something came down at that meditation which had not come down before and your experience was a translation of this descent in your consciousness. That you should have become aware of it in this way shows that your stay here has been very profitable to you and prepared your consciousness for the true realisation. The capacity for it is now there in you. Your future Sadhana should be a development from the experience to the realisation.
Q: On the Darshan Day (the 15th August) and the day before it, Ifelt an intense lovefor you andfor the Mother. It possessed my whole being for some time. And then a high and profound reverence for both of you - and "a happiness that no worldly pleasure can give us".
A: That is obviously psychic.
As for the Force, I shall write some other time. I have told you that it is not always efficacious, but works under conditions like all forces; it is only the supramental Force that works absolutely, because it creates its own conditions. But the Force I am using is a Force that has to work under the present world conditions. It is not the less a Force for that. I have cured myself of all illnesses except three by it and those too when they come I have kept in check; the fact that I have not succeeded yet in eliminating the fact or probability of those three does not cancel the fact of my success with the others. As for the Mother, she used formerly to cure everything at once by the same Power - now she has no time to think about her body or to concentrate on it. The prevalence of illness just now is a fact; it is part of the struggle that is going on in the domain of Matter. But even so there are plenty of people in the Ashram who get rid of their ills by reliance on the Mother. If all cannot do it, what does that prove or disprove? It only proves that the power does not work absolutely, miraculously, impossibly, but it works by certain given means and under conditions. I have always said that, so what is there in that that is new or that annihilates the truth of the Yoga?
I mean a certain receptivity in the consciousness - mind, vital, physical, whichever is needed. The Mother or myself send a force. If there is no openness, the force may be thrown back or return (unless we put a great force which is not advisable to do) as from an obstruction or resistance: if there is some openness, the result may be partial or slow; if there is the full openness or receptivity, then the result may be immediate. Of course, there are things that cannot be removed all at once, being an old part of the nature, but with receptivity these also can be more effectively and rapidly dealt with. Some people are so open that even by writing they get free before the book or letter reaches us.
It depends on how far the inner being is awake - otherwise one needs a physical avalambana. There are some people who get the relief only after we read a letter, others get it immediately they write or before it has reached us or after it has reached but before we have read. Others get it simply by referring the whole matter to us mentally. Idiosyncracies!
Q: If, after the Mother or you start working spiritually on some relative or friend of ours reported to be ill, some wrong information is given about his or her identity, does the help sent miss its mark?
A: Wrong information coming across the working creates a confusion so that it is no longer possible to say what is the result. Of course, if the wrong information comes at the beginning, it would be still worse. It is very necessary that the information given should be correct.
The Mother and I have no preference for allopathy. The Mother thinks doctors very usually make things worse instead of better by spoiling Nature's resistance to illness by excessive and illdirected use of their medicines. We have been able to work through X's homeopathy far better than through anything else - though it is likely that the Force working through homeopaths, who were not conscious instruments, might not have succeeded better than with the allopaths.
Q: What is the difference between a death in the Ashram and a death outside? Does one get more benefit in the form of development of mind and other parts on the subtle planes so that one may get a better new birth ?
A: I am not aware of any "development of mental" etc. in their planes; the development takes place on earth. The mental and other planes are not evolutionary.
The one who dies here is assisted in his passage to the psychic world and helped in his future evolution towards the Divine.
Certainly, Mother does not want only sportsmen in the Ashram: that would make it not an Ashram but a playground. The sports and physical exercises are primarily for the children of the school and they also do not play only but have to attend to their studies as well. Incidentally, they have improved immensely in their health and in discipline and conduct as one very valuable result. Secondarily, the younger Sadhaks are allowed, not enjoined or even recommended, to join in these sports, but certainly they are not supposed to be sportsmen only; they have other and more important things to do. To be a sportsman must necessarily be a voluntary choice and depends on one having the taste and inclination. There are plenty of people around the Mother herself - X for instance - who would never dream of frequenting the playground or engaging in sports and the Mother also would never think of asking them to do it. So, equally, she could not think of being displeased with you for shunning these delights.
Some, of course, might ask why any sports at all in an Ashram which ought to be concerned only with meditation and inner experiences and the escape from life into Brahman. But that applies only to the ordinary kind of Ashram to which we have got accustomed and this is not that orthodox kind of Ashram. It includes life in Yoga, and once we admit life we can include anything that we find useful for life's ultimate and immediate purpose and not inconsistent with the works of the Spirit.
After all, the orthodox Ashram came into being only after Brahman began to shun all connection with the world and the shadow of Buddhism stalked over all the land and the Ashrams turned into monasteries. The old Ashrams were not entirely like that; the boys and young men who were brought up in them were trained in many things belonging to life: the son of Pururavas and Urvasie practised archery in the Ashram of a Rishi and became an expert bowman, and Karna became disciple of a great sage in order to acquire from him the use of powerful weapons. So there is no a priori ground why sports should be excluded from life of an Ashram like ours where we are trying to equate life with the Spirit. Even table-tennis and football need not be rigorously excluded.
But putting all persifiage aside, my point is that to play or not to play is a matter of choice and inclination and it would be absurd for Mother to be displeased with you any more than with X for not caring to be a sportsman. So you need not have any apprehension on this score; that the Mother should be displeased with you for that is quite impossible. So the idea that she wished to draw away from you for anything done or not done was a misinterpretation without any real foundation since you have given no ground for it and there was nothing farther from her mind. She has herself explained that it was just the contrary that has been in her mind for sometime past and it was an increasing kindness that was her feeling and intention. The only change she could expect from you was to grow in your psychic and spiritual endeavour and inner progress and in this you have not failed - quite the contrary. Apart from that, the notion that she could be displeased with you because you did not change according to this or that pattern is a wild idea; it would be most arbitrary and unreasonable.
The Mother does not want anybody to take up the sports if he has no inclination or natural bent for them; to join or not to join must be quite voluntary and those who do not join are not cold-shouldered or looked down upon by her for that reason. It would be absurd for her to take that attitude: there are those who do her faithful service which she deeply appreciates and whom she regards with affection and confidence but who never go to the playground either because they have no turn for it or no time, - can you imagine that for that reason she will turn away from them and regard them with coldness? The Mother could never intend that sports should be the sole or the chief preoccupation of the inmates of the Ashram; even the children of the school for whose physical development these sports and athletic exercises are important and for whom they were originally intended, have other things to do, their work, their studies and other occupations and amusements in which they are as interested as in these athletics. There are other things more important: there are Yoga, spiritual progress, Bhakti, devotion, service....
I do not understand what you mean by my "giving time to sports": I am not giving any time to it except that I have written at Mother's request an article for the first number of the Bulletin [Bulletin of Physical Education, a quarterly journal published by the Ashram] and another for the forthcoming number. It is the Mother who is doing all the rest of the work for the organisation of the sports and that she must do, obviously, till it is sufficiently organised to go on of itself with only a general supervision from above and her actual presence once in the day. I put out my force to support her as in all the other work of the Ashram, but otherwise I am not giving any time for the sports.
There is no need for anyone to take up sports as indispensable for Yoga or enjoying the Mother's affection and kindness. Yoga is its own object and has its own means and conditions; sports is something quite different as the Mother herself indicated to you when she said that the concentration practised on the playground was not meditation and was used for the efficacy in the movements and not for any purpose of Yoga.
It is also not a fact that either the Mother or I are turning away from Yoga and intend to interest ourselves only in sport; we have no intention whatever of altering the fundamental character of the Ashram and replacing it by a sportive association. If we did that it would be a most idiotic act and if anybody should have told you anything like that, he must be off his head or in a temporary crisis of delirious enthusiasm for a very upsidedown idea.
The Mother told you very clearly once that what was being done in the playground was not meditation or a concentration for Yoga but only an ordinary concentration for the physical exercises alone.
If she is busy with the organisation of these things - and it is not true that she is busy with that alone - it is in order to get finished with that as soon as possible after which it will go on of itself without her being at all engrossed or specially occupied by it, as is the case with other works of the Ashram. As for myself, it is surely absurd to think that I am neglecting meditation and Yoga and interested only in running, jumping and marching!
There seem to have been strange misunderstandings about my second message in the Bulletin. In the first, I wrote about sports and their utility just as I have written on politics or social development or any other matter. In the second, I took up the question incidentally because people are expressing ignorance as to why the Ashram should concern itself with sports at all. I explained why it had been done and dealt with the more general question of how this and other human activities could be part of a search for a total perfection of all parts of the being including the body and more especially what would be the nature of the perfection of the body.
I indicated clearly that only by Yoga could there come a supreme and total perfection of all the instruments of the Spirit and the ascent of the whole being to the highest level and a divine life on earth and the assumption of a divine body. I made it clear that by human and physical means such as sports only a limited and precarious human perfection could come. In all this there is nothing to justify the idea that sport could be a means for jumping into the Supermind or that the Supermind was going to descend on the playground and nowhere else and only those who are there will receive it; that would be a bad look-out for me as I would have no chance!
I write all this in the hope of clearing away all the strange misconceptions with which the air seems to have become thick and by some of which you may have been affected.
You ought to be able to see that your idea of our insistence on you to take up sport or to like it and accept it in any way has no foundation. I myself have never been a sportsman or - apart from a spectator's interest in cricket in England or a non-player member of the Baroda cricket club - taken up any physical games or athletics except some exercises learnt from Madrasi wrestlers in Baroda such as dand and baithak, and those I took up only to put some strength and vigour into a frail and weak though not unhealthy body, but I never attached any other importance or significance to these things and dropped the exercises when I thought they were no longer necessary.
Certainly, neither the abstinence from athletics and physical games nor the taking up of those physical exercises have for me any relevance to Yoga. Neither your aversion to sport nor the liking of others for it makes either you or them more fit or more unfit for Sadhana.
So there is absolutely no reason why we should insist on your taking it up or why you should trouble your mind with the supposition that we want you to do it. You are surely quite free, as everybody is quite free, to take your own way in such matters.
Before coming to the main point I may as well clear out one matter not unconnected with it: my articles or messages, as they are called, in the Bulletin; for their appearance there and their contents seem to have caused some trouble, perplexity or misunderstanding in your mind and especially my speculations about the Divine Body.
I wrote the first of these articles to explain about how and why sport came to be included in the programme of the Ashram activities and I think I made it clear, as I went on, that sport was not Sadhana, that it belonged to what I called the lower end of things, but that it might be used not merely for amusement or recreation or the maintenance of health, but for a greater efficiency of the body and for the development of certain qualities and capacities, not of the body only but of morale and discipline and the stimulation of mental energies: but I pointed out also that these could be and were developed by other means and that there were limitations to this utility.
In fact, it is only by Sadhana that one could go beyond the limits natural to the lower end means. I think there was little room for misunderstanding here, but the Mother had asked me to write on other subjects not connected in any way with sport and had suggested some such subjects as the possibilities of the evolution of a divine body; so I wrote on that subject and went on to speak of the Supermind and Truth-Consciousness which had obviously not even the remotest connection with sport.
The object was to bring in something higher and more interesting than a mere record of gymnasium events but which might appeal to some of the readers and even to wider circles. In speaking of the Divine Body I entered into some far-off speculations about what might become possible in the future evolution of it by means of a spiritual force, but obviously the possibilities could not be anything near or immediate, and I said clearly enough that we should have to begin at the beginning and not attempt anything out of the way.
Perhaps I should have insisted more on present limitations, but that I should now make clear. For the immediate object of my endeavours is to establish spiritual life on earth and for that the first necessity must always be to realise the Divine; only then can life be spiritualised or what I have called the Life Divine be made possible.
The creation of something that could be called a divine body could be only an ulterior aim undertaken as part of this transformation, as, obviously, the development of such a divine body as was visioned in these speculations could only come into view as the result of a distant evolution and need not alarm or distract anyone. It might even be regarded as a phantasy of some remotely possible future which might one day happen to come true.
I then come to the main point, namely that the intention attributed to the Mother of concentrating permanently on sports and withdrawing from other things pertinent to Sadhana and our spiritual endeavour is a legend and a myth and has no truth in it.
Except for the time given to her own physical exercise ordinarily, two hours or sometimes three in the evening on the playground - the Mother's whole day from early morning and a large part of the night also has always been devoted to her other occupations connected with the Sadhana - not her own but that of the Sadhaks - Pranam, blessings, meditation and receiving the Sadhaks on the staircase or elsewhere, sometimes for two hours at a time, and listening to what they have to say, questions about the Sadhana, results of their work or their matters, complaints, disputes, quarrels, all kinds of conferences about this or that to be decided and done - there is no end to the list: for the rest she had to attend to their letters, to reports about the material work of the Ashram and all its many departments, correspondence and all sorts of things connected with the contacts with the outside world including often serious trouble and difficulties and the settlement of matters of great importance.
All this has certainly nothing to do with sports and she had little occasion to think of it at all apart from the short time in the evening. There was here no ground for the idea that she was neglecting the Sadhaks or the Sadhana or thinking of turning her mind solely or predominantly to sport and still less for imputing the same preoccupation to me.
Only during the period before the first and second December this year Mother had to give a great deal of time and concentration to the preparation of the events of those two days because she had decided on a big cultural programme: her own play, Vers I'Avenir, dances, recitation from Savitri and from the Prayers and Meditations for the first December and also for a big and ambitious programme for the second of sportive items and events. This meant a good deal more time for these purposes but hardly any interruption of her other occupations except for one or two of them just at the end of this period.
There was surely no sufficient ground here either for drawing the conclusion that this was going to be for the future a normal feature of her action or a permanent change in it or in the life of the Ashram ending in a complete withdrawal from spiritual life and an apotheosis of the Deity of Sport.
Those who voiced this idea or declared that sport would henceforth be obligatory on all were indulging in fantasies that have no claim to credibility. As a matter of fact, the period of tension is over and after the second December things have returned to normal or even to subnormal in the activities of the playground and as for the future you may recall the proverb that "once is not for ever."
But there seems to be still a survival of the groundless idea that sportsmanship is obligatory henceforth on every Sadhak and without it there is no chance of having the Mother's attention or favour.
It is therefore necessary for me to repeat with the utmost emphasis the statement I made long ago when this fable became current for a time along, I think, with the rumour that the Supermind was to descend on the playground and the people who happen to be there at the time and nowhere else and on nobody else - which would have meant that I for one would never have it!! I must repeat what I said then, that the Mother had never imposed or has any idea of imposing any such obligation and had no reason for doing so. She does not want you or anybody else to take to sports if there is no inclination or turn towards it. There are any number of people who enjoy her highest favour, among them some of her best and most valued workers, some most near to her and cherished by her who do not even set foot on the playground. Nobody then could possibly lose her favour or her affection by refusing to take up sport or by a dislike of sport or a strong disinclination towards it: these things are a matter of idiosyncrasy and nothing else.
The idea, whether advanced or not by someone claiming to have authority to voice the Mother's intentions, that sport is now the most important thing with her and obligatory for Sadhana is absurd in the extreme.
The realisation of the Divine is the one thing needful and the rest is desirable only in so far as it helps or leads towards that or when it is realised, extends or manifests the realisation.
Manifestation or organisation of the whole life for the Divine work: first, the Sadhana personal and collective necessary for the realisation and a common life of the God-realised men, secondly, for help to the world to move towards that and to live in the Light, is the whole meaning and purpose of my Yoga.
But the realisation is the first need and it is that round which all the rest moves, for apart from it all the rest would have no meaning.
Neither the Mother nor myself ever dreamed or could dream of putting anything else in its place or neglecting it for anything else. Most of the Mother's day is in fact given to helping the Sadhaks in one way or another towards that end, most of the rest is occupied with work for the Ashram which cannot be neglected or allowed to collapse, for this is too work for the Divine. As for the gymnasium, the playground and the rest of it, the Mother has made it plain from the beginning what place she assigned to these things; she has never done anything so imbecile as to replace essential things by these accessories.
Q: Learning languages makes the mind active. Does not the Yoga mean to keep the mind quiet and turn it always to the Divine?
A: Do you mean to say that in order to have quietness of the mind one must do nothing? Then neither the Mother nor I nor anyone else here has a quiet mind.
Q: Is it very important in our Sadhana to give up reading newspapers? I find that almost all the Sadhaks including the best ones read them and you also. Moreover, if one does not read them one remains uninformed and blank.
A: These things depend on oneself and one's own conditions - there can be no general rule. It is true that I read newspapers, but Mother never does unless her attention is called to a particular item. I dare say if X stopped reading papers for a year, it might be very good for him. One has to see what is one's necessity for the Sadhana. If the newspapers disperse the mind or externalise the consciousness too much, they should be avoided. If on the other hand one is dawdling over the Sadhana and having no particular inner endeavour one can read newspapers - it is no worse than anything else. On the other hand if the newspapers do not affect the formed or forming inner consciousness in any way (by dispersion, lowering, externalisation etc.) one can read them.
I read the newspapers mainly because I have to see what events are happening which might any day have an effect on my work etc. I do not read for the interest of reading.
As a rule the only mantra used in this Sadhana is that of the Mother or of my name and the Mother's.
The concentration in the heart and the concentration in the head can both be used - each has its own result. The first opens up the psychic being and brings Bhakti, love and union with the Mother, her presence within the heart and the action of her Force in the nature. The other opens the mind to self-realisation, to the consciousness of what is above mind, to the ascent of the consciousness out of the body and the descent of the higher consciousness into the body.
Q: Is there any difference between the Force that helps when I call the Mother in sleep and the Force that comes when I repeat "Sri Aurobindo-Mira" ?
A: There is not necessarily any difference of Force. Usually the Mother's name has the full power in it ; but in certain states of consciousness the double Name may have a special effect.
OM Sri Aurobindo Mira
Open my mind, my heart, my life to your Light, your Love, your Power. In all things may I see the Divine.
Note: This was given by Sri Aurobindo to a Sadhak who had asked him for a brief prayer with Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's names to use as a mantra. While giving it, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
"I have written for you a brief prayer with the names in the form of a mantra. I hope it will help you to overcome your difficulty and get an inner foundation." (16-7-1938)
On receiving the mantra the Sadhak inquired:
"Have I to consider the names and the prayer as one mantra?"
Sri Aurobindo replied: "Yes". (18-7-1938)
(Tat savitur varam rupam jyotih parasya dhimahi, yannah satyena dipayet.)
Let us meditate on the most auspicious (best) form of Savitri, on the Light of the Supreme which shall illumine us with the Truth. (Sri Aurobindo's translation)
From the non-being to true being,
from the darkness to the Light,
from death to Immortality.
OM Peace! Peace! Peace!
(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I.3.28)
So be it.
in SABCL, volume 26, "On Himself" - Part Two (pages 479-513)
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA