from "Questions and Answers 1957-1958"
Talk on the 6th August 1958
Effect and value of the collective prayer
Question: Sweet Mother, what is the effect and value of collective
We have already spoken about this, about collective prayers, the use that
has been made of them. I believe that it has been published in the Bulletin.
Besides, there are different kinds of collective prayer, just as there
are different kinds of collectivities.
There is the anonymous mass, the crowd, formed by chance circumstances,
without any inner coordination, impelled by the force of circumstance,
as for instance when a king or a person who attracts public attention
is in a critical situation, either ill or the victim of an accident, and
the people gather to obtain news and also to express their feelings; and
through chance circumstances people have collected there, that is, there
is no inner link except that of the same emotion or interest. There have
been cases of crowds spontaneously beginning to pray to ask for the recovery
of someone in whom they were specially interested. Of course, these very
crowds can gather for a completely different purpose, out of hatred, and
their cries are also a sort of prayer, a prayer to the adverse and destructive
Those movements are spontaneous, not organised, unexpected.
There is also the collectivity formed by individuals who have gathered
together around an ideal or a teaching or an action they want to carry
out, and who have an organising link between them, the link of the same
purpose, the same will and the same faith. These can gather in a methodical
manner to practise common prayer and meditation, and if their aim is high,
their organisation good, their ideal powerful, through their prayers or
mediations these groups can have a considerable effect on world events
or on their own inner development and collective progress. These groups
are necessarily far superior to others, but they don't have the blind
strength of the mobs, the collective action of the crowd. They replace
this vehemence, this intensity by the strength of a deliberate and conscious
At all times there have been on earth groups organised in this way. Some
of them have had a historical life, a historical action in the world,
but as a rule they have not succeeded better with the crowd, the mass,
than exceptional individuals. They have always been suspected and subjected
to attacks, persecutions, and often they have also been dissolved in a
very brutal, obscure and ignorant way
There were those semi-religious,
semi-chivalric groups, gathered around a belief or rather a creed, with
a definite aim, which have had a very interesting history in the world.
And certainly, they have done much for collective progress through their
There is an ideal organisation which, if fully realised, could create
a kind of very powerful unity, composed of elements all having the same
aim and the same will and with enough inner development to be able to
give a very coherent body to this inner oneness of purpose, motive, aspiration
At all times centres of initiation have tried this, more or less successfully,
and this is always mentioned in all occult traditions as an extremely
powerful means of action.
If the collective unit could attain the same cohesion as the individual
unit, it would multiply the strength and action of the individual.
Usually, if several individuals are brought together, the collective quality
of the group is much lower than the individual value of each person taken
separately, but with a sufficiently conscious and coordinated organisation,
it would be possible, on the contrary, to multiply the power
of individual action.
in CWM, volume 9, "Questions and Answers
1957-1958" pages 369-370
published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA