Monday, June 30, 2014

From my recently published book: The Mother of all Beings- Mother Said

Mother Said “It was an occasion of a host of silly events that occur constantly and make people repeat, ‘Mother said, Mother felt, Mother did, Mother . …’ I wondered, ‘Can’t I make them understand?’ well, I have seen that It’s impossible, so I don’t bother about it anymore. I simply said to those who have goodwill, ‘Don’t listen to what people tell you; when they come and tell you, ‘Mother said, Mother wanted…’ don’t believe a word of it, that’s all; let them say what they like, it doesn’t matter.” Mother said during one of her talks on 22 July1964. 1 It seems that she was disgusted. It is true that she said different things to different people, often contradictory, as per their differing inner needs. Many were her advices to individuals as per the then, temporal needs, specific to their nature or situation. Some of her words were of universal nature carrying value for all, said on special occasions. Usually those are understood but they are on many instances misused. She explained it but gave up the idea of making people understand. It is fact that we often hear, “Mother said, Mother did, Mother wanted”, but rarely do we hear, “Sri Aurobindo said” or “Sri Aurobindo wanted.” There is difficulty in it and usually it is not as common as the Mother’s day-to-day advices to her disciples or others as she would look after all arrangements, everyday needs. Knowing Mother and her works are the first steps toward a movement to know her thoughts and ideas. Innumerable were the subjects she had spoken about. Concentration on a few controversial and important topics, about which she had repeated her statements, opinions and acted continuously to establish her ideas, may perhaps help us to clear the cloud. In this connection we have to remember that human actions stem from reactions whereas divine action is spontaneous, it speaks to each thing or being according to its dharma, by which Mother meant both law and truth. She confirmed that her actions were the result of neither mental nor vital nor emotional or physical reactions. Religion and Spirituality- Mother was against any hollow ritualistic practices. She was ardently in favour of spirituality. On 23 May 1956, about her sojourn to India for the first time in a Japanese boat she gave detailed report of how on a Sunday everyone crowded down into the lounge and the Presbyterian made a speech. Everybody listened very religiously and when it was over, they all came up again “with the satisfied air of someone who has done his duty. And, of course, five minutes later they were in the bar drinking and playing cards, and their religious ceremony was forgotten… there was nothing more to be said about it.” When repeatedly insisted to speak her mind why she did not take part in it, she said to the clergyman, “I don’t feel that you are sincere, neither you nor your flock. You all went there to fulfil a social duty and a social custom, but not at all because you really wanted to enter into communion with God.” Puzzled, the questioner uttered, “Enter into communion with God! But we can’t do that!” 2 Someone asked her permission to visit a church on 25 December 1969 to see the midnight ceremony. Mother replied that while Sri Aurobindo spent his whole life to free men from the bondage of religions, does he want to contradict his work for the sake of a childish curiosity? But we must remember from such examples that such perfunctory religiosity is found with most human beings belonging to any religious denomination. Most of them are not awake to their devotional or routine rituals done because in the absence of it they would feel vacant, feel afraid inwardly or as in most cases they would feel isolated from their group of general practitioners. Let us see what Sri Aurobindo said about freedom from the bondage of religion, about the spirituality: “Spirituality is not a high intellectuality, not idealism, not an ethical turn of mind or moral purity and austerity, not religiosity or an ardent and exalted emotional fervour, not even a compound of all these excellent things…. Spirituality is in its essence an awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body, an inner aspiration to know, to feel, to be that, to enter into contact with the greater Reality- beyond and pervading the universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in communion with It and union with It, and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our whole being … a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature.” 3 A note from Mother dated 19 March 1973 was- “Here we have no religion. We replace religion with spiritual life, which is truer and both deeper and higher, that is to say, closer to the Divine. For the Divine is in all things, but we are not conscious of it. This is the immense progress that men must make.” 4 Her oft repeated statement was again said on 5 April 1967, “What is most important, is to get rid of that division. And they all have it in their minds- each and everyone of them! The division between living a spiritual life or living the ordinary life, having a spiritual consciousness or having an ordinary consciousness- there is only One consciousness! “It’s still the old idea. Still the old idea of the sage, the yogi, the sannyasin, the . . . who represents spiritual life, while all others represent ordinary life- but it’s not true! It’s not true, not true at all.” 5 She stressed in elaborating it. What she wanted to say is that it is not the denial of life by the sannyasin or the rigidity of rituals that should be our goal for our goal is much vaster; spiritual. As a conclusion she quoted Sri Aurobindo, from his Essays on the Gita, “We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future.” 6 But we see that she spoke of the two consciousnesses too and differentiated between them at certain other times. Whatever ceremonies and festivals she participated, in whatever position, were gestures of her goodwill and benediction towards her disciples and devotees not for the festival or the occasion. “The true spiritual life begins when one is in communion with the Divine in the psychic, when one is conscious of the divine Presence in the psychic and in constant communion with the psychic. Then the spiritual life begins, not before. . . . “Before that, one may be an aspirant to the spiritual life, but one doesn’t have a spiritual life.” She said. 7 “All that opens to us the road to the supreme realities, pulls us out from the mud of the Ignorance in which we are stuck, opens the door to us, shows us the path, leads us to where we have to go- this is what man has called ‘Spirit’ “In fact, the vast majority of men are like prisoners with all the doors and windows closed, so they suffocate, which is quite natural.” 8 “There are people who live constantly in a higher consciousness, while others have to make an effort to enter there.” 9 With an understanding of what is spiritual consciousness and what is not or what is ordinary consciousness we shall move to the most important tool to attend spiritual consciousness: Meditation- Some have the idea that Mother was against doing meditation, almost a compulsory discipline in every yogic, spiritual system. How could Mother, who used to spontaneously meditate for hours in the jungle of Fontainbleu in Paris during her teens, how could she, who used to meditate in the early morning for decades and note her experiences in her notebooks, later published as Prayers and Meditations, how could she who often entered into trance, who led and gave meditations to her disciples for years, who showed the greatest example of surrender during her silent meditation with Sri Aurobindo on 29 March when she first met him in 1914, show disregard for it? Let us see. On 17 February 1951 she explained during the question hour that during the meditation session in the Ashram she used to try to kindle the flame of aspiration, to help it to rise up in her disciples and during Playground meditations she invited those who wanted the perfection of their physical body for the yoga. About the Ashram meditation she said, “I tried to unify the consciousness of all who were present and to lift it in an aspiration towards higher regions; it was a movement of ascent, of aspiration- whereas what we do here, in concentration, is a movement of descent. . . . . “Who really want the perfection of their physical body can come, not those wh want to escape from life, escape from themselves, escape from their body to enter into the heights.” 10 “With a little practice one reaches a state which may be obtained at will in a few seconds, that is, one doesn’t waste any meditation time.” She said on 5 June 1957. About the result she said, “It may be an illumination, an understanding truer or closer to the truth, or a power of transformation which helps you to achieve a psychological progress or a widening of the consciousness or a greater control over your movements, over the activities of the being.” 11 “Is not sitting down to meditation an indispensable discipline and does it not give a more intense and concentrated union with the Divine?” someone asked. Mother did not deny it. “That may be,” she said, “But a discipline in itself is not what we are seeking. What we are seeking is to be concentrated on the Divine in all that we do, at all times, in all our acts and in every movement.” During her Question and Answer session in 1929 she said, “The number of hours spent in meditation is no proof of spiritual progress. It is a proof if your progress when you no longer have to make an effort to meditate . . . . “There are some who have been asked to meditate; but also there are others who have not been asked to do any meditation at all . . . . To work, to act with devotion and an inner consecration is also a spiritual discipline. The final aim is to be in constant union with the divine, not only in meditation but in all circumstances and in all the active life.” 12 She stopped taking meditation for sometime for an atmosphere of formidable mass of stupid prejudices which created an irreconcilable antagonism between material and spiritual life, as she explained. This she considered to be foolishness which is to be uprooted to pave the way toward Supramental manifestation. “What I most fear are those who believe themselves very exceptional because they sit down and meditate…. they become so vain and so full of self-satisfaction that they close up in this way all avenues of progress…. There is one thing that has always been said, but always misunderstood, it is the necessity of humility,” 13 She said, “Whatever work it is- if you do it and while doing it are careful not to forget the Divine, to offer to Him what you do and try so to give yourself to Him that He may change all your actions . . . then in that way you will make progress.” 14 “The Ashram is meant for yoga, not for musical entertainment or other social activities. “Those that live in the Ashram are requested to live quietly and noiselessly and if they are not capable themselves of meditation they must, at least, leave the others to meditate,” she said on 25 April 1958. 15 She hastened to add that she liked music very much as she was a practicing musician but said that it should be limited to a good atmosphere. Sri Aurobindo insisted on meditation as a process of doing yoga. Mother never denied it. She herself was a great practitioner of it, but she disliked any pretence and demanded absolute sincerity. She felt that one would meditate when the real time arrives for him, almost under compulsion. She wanted sadhaks to always meditate and offer, in all circumstances, amidst all actions, which are much more difficult that usual meditation, she admitted. In reply to some questions about sports and Mother’s attention toward it, about the playground meditation, Sri Aurobindo made it clear that playground meditation was an ordinary concentration for physical exercise while meditation for spiritual development was guided by the Mother in the Ashram. He said that sports was given its due place but that could not take the place of sadhana in the Ashram. All these references are to confirm that Mother was never against meditation in favour of any work done for any purpose. We may here verify Mother’s views and actions on certain important social institutions and ceremonies, on human activities in collective and individual life to clear our faith on her which are contrary to what some say as “Mother said”. Marriage is important in every society. It is the second important stage of life, Garhasthya ashrama, according to Hindu social system. Mother usually blessed the newly married couple or those going to be married. But her opinions are given below which throw sufficient light on the subject. In a letter on 28 July 1937 she wrote, that she never advised anyone to marry; it is a terrible bondage. But she did not restrict anyone to marry. She gave them freedom saying that “you are free and that it is for you to make the decision; that’s all.” In a letter on 13 October 1940 she said, “Marriage is not a direct way to prepare oneself for sadhana. It can be an indirect one if the outward nature needs troubles and disappointments to get rid of worldly attachments….” 16 During her talks on 19 October 1963 she mentioned- “I had the experience of a young couple who came to see me (It has become a custom nowadays that young people who are going to marry and whose families I know, or who live here, come to receive my blessings before marrying! That’s the new fashion.) …. to receive my blessings. Then they went. And they left behind in the room … a vital formation, very bubbly, absolutely ignorant, very bubbly with a joie de vivre, a joie de vivre so blissfully ignorant of all possible difficulties, all possible miseries, and not only for oneself but for everyone! …. (Note that these young people belong to the ‘top’ of society) …. I wondered if it isn’t even more widespread in Western countries than here- I think it is.” 17 During the same year Bharatidi, a French lady of 73, wrote to Mother, if she would have to marry to get an interview. Mother’s reply was both humorous and penetrating. “O Bharaitidi, our dear friend! “Don’t marry, it will be such a big loss for all- for you would have to leave the Ashram, at least during the honey-moon…. My programme is generally five minutes of meditation, sometimes less- and how I ask you to climb two storeys for that…. And your voice resounds at times to my inner hearing- and I always reply in the silence.” Generally it may be said that she advised someone or the other depending on their condition of life to marry or not to marry but it cannot be said that she viewed it as an ideal position for leading a life that she professed. Rules and Regulations Mother did not prescribe too many rules for her governance, for they give scopes for revolt. She expected that with the growth of spirituality in her disciples lower-nature and propensities to immoral things would fall off from their nature. However, for those who intended to practice integral yoga, she prohibited three things- sexual relation, drinking alcohol and smoking. She also prohibited politics. Politics- She was always for organizing the country beyond politics. Party is like a box, a limitation. Taking the clue from what Sri Aurobindo said, she thought that, “We represent no party! We represent India”. During talks she said, “I am not saying officially; because I have said and always repeat that politics is in complete Falsehood, based on Falsehood, and I am not dealing with it, meaning that I am not in politics, I don’t want to be- but that doesn’t stop me from seeing clearly!” 18 “If there is a man who feels like going in for politics, that is different; but I think the others will be strong without being inside.” She said on 25 May 1970. 19 But she loved India, loved men. She would not leave any area of life unexplored, specially such an important area of country’s progress, but not through politics. She was very clear on the point and advised- “It is to organise the country beyond politics. And it is the only way. . . . “There is no hope in going backwards; it would make things last endlessly. We must go forward, absolutely, and go beyond, beyond party. And no body can explain that better than Sri Aurobindo, because he was so much, so much beyond party; he saw the advantages and disadvantages of all parties and he stated them exactly.” 20 This journey of finding what Mother said and what she meant is very lengthy and repetitious, labyrinthine. I have tried to bring home some common areas where “Mother Said” is quite popular. A nice example will make the point acute; “Do not trouble yourselves with what others do, I cannot repeat it to you too often. Do not judge, do not criticise, do not compare. That is not your lookout.” (1957) 21 If this were Mother’s dictum for all it would be a paradise for the looters and whimsical actors, a play ground for all wrong doers but fortunately the publisher of the volume 14, titled ‘Words of the Mother’(The Mother. Collected Works. Centenary Edition. 1978.) wrote in his Note, “The reader should note that most of these statements were written for individuals under particular circumstances and were not, at the time of writing, intended for general circulation.” Still this write up is often put up for general consumption. After many years of her departure Mother has become a myth and superstition; Mother’s words, her smile, her Prasad are much in demand for multiple uses around her last abode and perhaps beyond. This is an effort to bring out what Mother actually said, what she intended her children to do, to become, to the extent possible, for deviations are part of life. She was Mother of love. She never refused anybody. She always smiled. Even when she was utterly busy, she received people, corresponded with a large number of them. Large number of people regularly met her in spite of her failing health, simply for the satisfaction of receiving her blessings, for a work or ritual, perhaps very personal and not so important generally. She could not refuse when people around her pushed them. Many received her Divine smile, flowers and other things during their sole visit to the Ashram. Many, who happened to be there, near her, received her smile, touch, blessings for days, months and years together, as the chance occurred during the days of her ministry. Mother accommodated her children in many ways, giving relaxation to norms, showing special kindness to some out of benevolence. But perhaps she, only she, who knew the inner sides of everything and everyone, could do it. Let all those who received such bounty keep them as treasures in the special chambers of their hearts. But that might neither be due to any speciality of the recipients’ character nor their legitimate due but because they remained or occupied a physical nearness to her at that particular point of time. Wonderful was her world, from wonder she traveled to wonder. Notes 1 Mother’s Agenda. Satprem. Paris; Institut de Recherches Evolutive. 1988. V-5. p.133 2 The Mother. Collected Works. Centenary Edition. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram. V-8. pp.149-150 3 The Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry; SABCL, Sri Aurobindo Ashram.Vol-19. p. 857 4 Mother’s Agenda. V-13. p. 379 5 Mother’s Agenda. V-8. pp. 100 and 98 6 Mother’s Agenda. V-8. p. 103 7 The Mother. V-8. p. 136 8 The Mother. V-9. pp. 430-431 9 The Mother. V-4. p. 230 10 The Mother. V-4. pp. 122-123 11 The Mother. V-9. p.115 12 The Mother. V-3. p. 20 13 The Mother. V-5. p. 45 14 The Mother. V-5. p. 44 15 The Mother. V-13. p. 120 16 The Mother. V-14.p. 313 17 Mother’s Agenda. V-4. pp. 358-59 18 India The Mother. Paris and Mysore; Institut de Recherches Evolutives and Mira Aditi. 1998. p.146 19 The Mother. V-15. p.467 20 The Mother. V-15. pp.426-427 21 The Mother. V-14. p.293

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